This article appeared in HR Monthly Magazine in May, and discusses how our client Jetstar used their iD intranet to connect and engage with their hugely disparate workforce. For full details on the challenges Jetstar faced and exactly how they solved them, see our Case Studies Page.
‘Come together’ – Intranets are re-emerging as a way to connect dislocated employees
With employees in constant movement all over the world, Jetstar is an ideal example of an organization looking to connect dislocated personnel. In late 2007, Jetstar decided it needed an adequate intranet system to keep its staff connected and engaged. “We had simply grown up as a business and we were starting to experience limitations in being able to communicate what we wanted, when we wanted,” says Jeff Martin, IT project manager for Jetstar.
While the company had an initial intranet system, it relied heavily upon the involvement of the IT department, to the point that even the weekly e-newsletter needed the department’s help. This made the simplest tasks both time consuming and expensive.
Martin brought his concerns to Simon Westaway, Jetstar’s general manager of corporate relations, who helped him make a business case on how a new intranet system would help end this communication bottleneck. The company then held a closed tender in November 2007, with The ADWEB Agency’s Intranet DASHBOARD (iD) named the winner.
Connie Pandos, director of The ADWEB Agency and iD, could relate to Jetstar’s need to limit the involvement of the IT department. With a communications background herself, Pandos helped develop iD as an off-the-shelf intranet solution for companies afraid that these kinds of projects can turn into extensive – and expensive – technological nightmares.
“At its core, the aim of an intranet is not technological,” says Pandos. “While you need to involve your IT department, you have to understand that you’re going to be left running it. It’s like even if the IT department installs your accounting software, at the end of the day they’re not the ones using the programs.”
When Jetstar came to Pandos, this was one of its primary concerns. The airline wanted something that would require little involvement from the IT department once installed. As for the purpose of the intranet system itself, its main goals were to make life easier for pilots, cabin crew and airport staff; move paper-based forms online; make it easy to find employee contact details; and promptly update staff with corporate and staff communication.
“This was a business that had seen really rapid growth,” she says. “Of the 3000 or so employees, three quarters of them will never set foot in the head office. They were anywhere at any point in time.” To overcome this challenge, Pandos worked with Jetstar to create its intranet system using various iD applications. They introduced the use of role-based landing pages so that cabin crew, pilots and other staff groups each had a centralized place with all the information they were likely to need.
“Pilots are required to consume a lot of important safety information and it changes all the time,” says Michael Curry, Jetstar’s digital communications adviser. “The role-based landing pages make it fast and easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for.”
As great as it was to have this system in place, a key performance indicator was to ensure that the intranet was actively being used once it was up and running, as this isn’t the kind of workforce that sits in front of their computer screens all day. As an initial introduction, they ran a naming competition that came up with the name JEN: Jetstar Employee Network.
While the company considered having a big launch, Martin says that they decided against it as they didn’t want to end up over-promising and under-delivering.
“In the end we launched it low key,” he says. “When we turned it live, staff opened an internet session and they automatically opened up on the JEN home page. We were confident in what we had done and we let JEN speak for itself.”
It’s a strategy that worked. Four months after its launch, 100 per cent of the staff were using JEN. In addition to delivering the initial objectives of access to information such as the staff directory and bringing forms online, JEN has proven helpful at building a sense of community among their staff. “It was a fantastic employee engagement exercise that continues to go on today,” says Pandos.