Butternut Box's Journey to Overcoming Communication Challenges in Shift Work
Butternut Box is a fresh dog food company, which is a subscription model company that makes dog food to a human-grade standard.
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The Challenges of Seven Different Working Patterns
The Butternut Box team operates around four types of working groups, with seven different working patterns. They have employees who work Monday to Friday in the office, but that is the smallest portion of their team. They also run a shift-based site with four shifts that work a continental day-night shift pattern. These are located in the production and warehouse. They also have a fulfillment team that works a Panama days-based shift pattern. As well as the logistical challenges such a working pattern creates, they are also a fast-paced business. This means that things are constantly changing, updating, and growing, which makes communicating across the different shifts and working groups complicated.
Important Information Missed
As they are a very transparent business, the volume of information that is produced can become overwhelming which, in the past, has meant that members of the team have stopped reading important information and have missed critical updates. Having conducted engagement surveys previously, the management team noticed that employees felt that they weren't connected to what was happening in the business or weren’t able to input into key decisions that were being made. This was an issue especially as decisions were being made about important things that affected their role. They are a close-knit team who have grown with the business and employee input is greatly valued. As changes can happen very quickly in terms of how they manage the operations or if they were to do a recipe change, it is important not to lose the feedback of their team.
To counteract all these challenges they realized they needed a way to deliver consistent messages that would land at the right place, at the right time, for everyone. The aim was to give the most up-to-date information to facilitate their 24-7 operating sites.
Previously they had used other communication tools that just became streams of information across multiple different channels. This allowed them to be able to target a message to a particular shift knowing that they were coming in on a particular day but it wasn’t solving the overall communication challenges cohesively.
Bringing Team Members on the Journey
Luckily, their Chief Operating Officer knew that this was a critical factor that they had to address quite quickly. Communication is a huge part of their team’s engagement and as a growing business, they needed to make sure they were bringing people along the journey with them. Through research they found OurPeople and they have been using it since October 2022. The roll-out has been super easy as they found the whole onboarding experience over two weeks the most straightforward they have ever encountered. The support from the OurPeople team has also helped to get people into the system and get the setup done correctly from the outset so that it has had the maximum impact on them.
In terms of their main usage, they are using the Broadcast function in multiple different ways. They have about 40 people who can broadcast through the platform to different groups using video broadcasts, adding images, reveals, and quizzes to make it a really fun way to communicate clearly, simply, and interactively.
Typically members of the leadership team are using OurPeople to inform their teams of key or critical messages. An example of this is when they used the platform to communicate their compensation approach in their Q1 Town Halls.
No One Hears Secondhand Information
They use OurPeople to make sure nobody hears company information secondhand. This comes in handy when team members are on shift patterns, especially when communicating important information such as pay awards. From a leadership team perspective, they have found it really easy to communicate and broadcast key messages.
They have 40 team leaders on-site in various capacities who are now using OurPeople to communicate. This is especially helpful when the night time shift comes to an end and they send a message at about 5 am that is scheduled to go at 6 am with very clear information to say what the oncoming shift needs to know. This includes how many health and safety concerns or accidents there have been in the week, what the tonnage plan is for the week, where they're performing against the tonnage plan, and any key issues that they've seen on shift. With the night shift, doing that, it's the most up-to-date information they can get out to a team. By sending it at 6 am, when people are coming in for their morning cup of tea or coffee, they can take a quick read of it and that's one of the most impactful ways they can get messages to people so they know what they're walking into after five days off and they feel ready and raring to go for their shift.
Recently they’ve been going through a period where they've needed a lot of people to sign quite several documents. By sending a Broadcast they’ve been able to pre-warn employees that there’s something in their inbox that has to be signed. Additional messages can then be sent to anyone that hasn’t replied. Butternut Box is now building its broader communication strategy over the next three months and OurPeople features in terms of quick and regular ways to send particular communications out.
Overall the OurPeople platform has helped greatly when it comes to employee engagement and informing the team about company or shift updates so they can have the biggest impact when they start their shift. Being able to communicate in this way has made the team feel more in control of what's happening as they know what to expect. As they operate a growing, scaling business that is changing all the time, team members can feel a bit unnerved if they don’t feel they know what is going on. OurPeople has definitely solved this challenge.
The feedback from the teams has been positive as the overall sentiment is that communication has massively improved, and the simplicity and accessibility of information have been a big factor in that improvement.
Broadcast Responses From App
“It is simple, consistent, fun, and easy to use. It's not complicated and it gives the ability to deliver a message to the right people at the right time. The setup piece has been hugely important, but the functionality of the tool is just so simple to use. The instant reaction is, let's go to OurPeople and do a broadcast.”