Employee Comms

Your Questions Answered: Q&A From National Grid's Engage Session


 — June 27th, 2023

Your Questions Answered: Q&A From National Grid's Engage Session

Sally Jackson, Sr. Manager, Content and Channels, Colleague Communications at National Grid has kindly answered all the questions that came in during her presentation on Winning Combination: How Personalization & Analytics Drive Impact at Engage 2023.


Q. How have your data and analytics help change the opinions of leaders to change the way they share messages?

A. Some of our leaders have moved to using Yammer more as a result of the data and analytics we have provided, but we have more to do in this area. We’ve also been able to use data to reduce the number of separate emails going out and moving more content to our intranet and our newsletter (as we can demonstrate people do view content on those platforms).

Q. What platform do you use for your comms dashboard? Can you talk about the implementation process of getting all those data sources to feed in?

A. At the moment we just use PowerPoint but we are considering other options in the future, such as PowerBI. CoPilot may also allow us to create smarter data visualization in the near future, taking out a lot of the groundwork. However, I would argue you don’t need to have a fancy dashboard and data tools to create a great dashboard. It’s more about linking it back to your strategy!

Q. As a company with 35,000+ employees, I'd be interested in your weekly newsletter open and clickthrough rates.

A. We compare favorably to utilities and IC benchmarks from Poppulo for our hybrid/office colleagues, generally above or skirting around the benchmarks. Poppulo provide us with additional benchmarks beyond the standard ones – for company size and industry vertical. Our open rates are lower for field workers.

Q. How much communication is too much? is there a benchmark you've found for quality over quantity?

A. We have been monitoring the number of news stories over average views per article and we’ve found a point where the engagement starts to drop. It will depend on many things, such as the audience type, the ‘real estate’ you have available to display information and so on. We are using this to guide recommendations around story volume on our news feeds.

Poppulo provides an 8-12 article recommendation for a newsletter for optimal engagement per story and we try to stick to this for our newsletter (allowing ourselves flexibility where needed).

Q. Who analyzes the data for your team? Do you have like a data analyst in your comms team?

A. No we analyze ourselves in the Content and Channels team. The employee engagement survey is managed separately by another team member though. We try to make it part of everyone’s roles. If we had a bigger team it would make sense to have a specialist and I have seen that in another organization.

Q. Can you discuss the process of building a dashboard for gathering data?

A. We took each element of our strategy and then broke it down into outcomes. We plotted these out in a simple design. Against each of these, we pull something through onto our dashboard. We have a simple template we use each time. As I responded above to another related question, you don’t necessarily need fancy tools to do measurement! Start simple.

Q. Do you set a target in terms of metrics for your channels at the start of each year?

A. We have collected data over about 3 years and are in the process of creating some internal benchmarks for use by our wider team.

We also revisit our channel strategy each year and check that we are reporting on the right things at a channel level and track progress against our strategy.

For example, at first, we tracked growth in user numbers for our intranet – to the home and beyond the home page. Now as that matures, it’s also about the types of content people engage in, are they personalizing? How do different groups interact? How do people use search?

For Yammer we have moved from focusing on visits/views to interactions and active users.

Q. What tools or analytics do think works best in measuring engagement ?

A. There are a whole range of tools and analytics out there and it really does depend on your goal.

Heatmaps can give an indication of behaviors, and how people interact with content.

Quizzes and polls can give an indication of how interested people are in a topic.

Some video analytics tools give you a view of how many people watch through most or all of your video and this is more valuable than clicks alone.

Tools with social and commenting show you who has not only read the content, but is interested enough to interact.

Other analytics tools can show how many people have completed a journey or activity and this can be incredibly valuable.

Some tools for Yammer show you not just overall activity but which content has been interacted with most, sentiment analysis of comments and can be used as a powerful listening tool alongside other data sources.

I would use a range of these tools alongside data from sources such as your engagement survey, interviews and focus groups and look for patterns across multiple data sources.

Team Structure

Q. What office / exec does internal communication report to? How many people are on your "content and channels" team specifically?

A. We are in the People function. My team has five people, one of whom is an editor/writer and the others look after and develop channels.

Q. How is your internal comms team organized? Do they look after specific business priorities or are they aligned to execs/departments?

A. We are aligned to our op model, plus have a central team who will work on specific strategic campaigns, content, channels, planning, and measurement.

Q. What size team or additional resources do you need to successfully orchestrate a change campaign—and ultimately measure the outcome or any real change?

A. It would depend on a number of factors…how big and complex is your organization? How big is the change?

We tend to have a campaign lead who is then supported by others in the business partnering teams to localize the campaign for their audiences. Members of my team also support company-wide content and channel strategy for this particular project. The campaign lead completes the measurement but often comes to my team for guidance on benchmarks, what to measure etc. It’s a team effort.


Q. How do you manage surveys (and 'survey fatigue') - do you send to all or a smaller group of colleagues?

A. We manage surveys carefully and have worked to reduce the amount of separate ones needed. We often use samples to reduce survey fatigue.

Q. Do you ask communication-specific questions in your engagement survey?

A. Yes, there are questions relating to some of our strategic comms objectives such as understanding of the bigger picture and effectiveness of leadership communication.


Q. Do you use the personalization data from your intranet to inform your communications strategy? My company recently launched our intranet but are struggling with adoption and providing the right mix of company content and culture pieces.

A. Yes, we are using the personalization data (and other data) to understand what people are doing—we are refreshing our home page design and are using the data to make personalization options more prominent.

We also look at what types of content perform best and what segments are reading them and adjust our content strategy and training for content creators accordingly.

We’ll also be doing some more education around the options available. On our newsletter, we look at what content people do and don’t engage in and use that to inform our future content strategy—content types, ordering, titles etc.

Q. What platform do you use for your intranet and what do you use to measure it?

A. We use Unily and Unily analytics, which is excellent.

Q. Can you explain card sorting?

A. Card sorting is a user experience exercise where you test out how employees categorize content on your intranet—this helps with site design including menus.


Q. My company is worried associates will unionize on Yammer...I'd be interested in how you manage/oversee Yammer usage.

A. We have very clear ‘have your say guidelines’ which set out rules of engagement on the platform. We find it is overall a much more positive and welcoming environment than Twitter for example and that is partly because people are posting in their workplace and want to be respectful of their colleagues and be seen positively by their peers. It is a work, not a personal platform, and you are personally identifiable in your posts, and this does help with self-moderation. It’s also about creating a trusting and open culture where people can give constructive feedback, and Yammer can help with this. We do not have to moderate actively but have a reporting mechanism and clear process to follow for any escalations. I can count on one hand where we’ve had to moderate in the last three years.

Q. We are exploring utilizing Yammer, but are having a hard time getting buy-in to that being a legitimate source of disseminating information. Was that difficult to get people to use email less and use Yammer and other vehicles like it more?

A. It’s partly about demonstrating the value and also addressing the perception that the channel isn’t used (when it is!).

One way to gain momentum is to share with stakeholders real stories from other organizations who have used the channel to derive real business benefits. We are sharing with stakeholders where content performs well and provide training on how to create engaging content.

One other thing to reinforce to people, is that the more you use Yammer, the better your experience will be. The more you engage and interact in others’ content, the more visible your own will be, for example.

We have also set out really clear guidelines about what Yammer is for versus other channels which has also really helped with adoption.

Finally, the key is getting leaders to see the value of the tool and start using it. If they do, others will follow. Spend time with leaders getting them up to speed, demonstrating benefits, helping them with a content strategy and showing them how to use Yammer as a two-way communication tool, not just for broadcasting.

That said it isn’t always easy and can take time to build up change in behaviors.


Q. How do you communicate the weekly round-up?

A. We use Poppulo for this—a targeted newsletter with a unique version depending on your individual profile. We have a weekly editorial team who manages the content

Q. How do you engage those employees not at a desk or in an office? Do you do any kind of people leader cascading packs to ensure those people are kept informed?

A. Yes although it varies by business area at the moment.

Q. Do you use cascading to communicate, and if so, how?

A. As above.

Q. How do you make a global newsletter to such a large audience relevant to most?

A. We target individual articles so each person has a different version according to their profile.

Q. Can you provide an example of a 'values campaign'?

A. Our team ran a campaign to recognize values in action using a peer recognition awards scheme. This has proven to be extremely popular. We then share the best stories from around the business to bring our values to life and celebrate all nominees and winners.

Q. How does HQ level IC team work with / support local IC teams?

A. We partner with our local teams—we set out the framework and guidelines, provide central campaign materials, manage the planning and measurement approaches, and maintain and develop tools and channels.

Q. In regard to content, my organization sends out a weekly companywide newsletter in addition to a newsletter for supervisors+ sent on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month. The content and language in these newsletters is different based on audience. Does National Grid do something similar?

A. Yes, we send a targeted newsletter with different content according to the individual reader’s profile.

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