As one of the largest magazine publishers in the world with more than 300 titles and 240 websites, it makes sense that a compelling story was the cornerstone of Hearst Magazines UK’s transformative ‘Get Involved’ initiative.
Powered by Hearst’s own story and an understanding that the best ideas are often the most simple, the championing of employee voice through a central ‘get involved’ theme empowered participants to make their own mark on the business, fostering community and a workforce-wide sense of purpose.
This particular chapter of the business’s story began around three years ago when it became apparent a more open and collaborative culture was key to its future success – both commercially and in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.
“We faced a big challenge around breaking down silos,” the team explains, “and around encouraging participation so people at Hearst could more fully join in organisational life.”
The approach adopted was manifold: they relaunched and re-energised the existing initiatives they already had in place and which reinforced the culture they aimed to grow, and then anchored that cultural ambition in clear values.
Existing initiatives that were bolstered included a people forum and the role of Hearst people ambassadors, deepening their role as the voice of employees to senior leadership, as well as increased funding for a social committee, sports teams and choir.
A programme entitled ‘Fixing the Fundamentals’ (FtF) was developed to deliver the changes people’s feedback had identified as critical. Cross-functional teams focussed on specific themes people had raised including strategy, culture, and benefits, demonstrating to employees that they didn’t have to be passive within the business and that they were the solution to creating a culture that was more open.
With the fundamentals fixed, in 2018 a series of workshops participated in by an estimated two thirds of the 850-strong workforce gave employees a chance to help start to define Hearst values.
Get Involved emerged as one of these values, and a flurry of activity ensued. Mental health first aiders were trained; in 2019 a diversity and belonging strategy was launched and self-organising BAME and LGBTQ+ committees emerged; that same year a ‘Summer Stories’ event provided staff with 30 activities they could take part in; a charity committee and a sustainability committee were launched; in 2020 a parents network was launched, and so much more.
The numbers of those involved speak for themselves, and the consistently strong participation in the Work Well Survey (85 per cent+) exemplifies the powerful transformation the company has undergone.
The scores given by people to the question of how well they feel Hearst UK’s values fit with what they think is important have moved from 6.7 (out of 10) to 7.7, with 35 per cent scoring the question 9 or 10 out of 10 in 2020.
A recent survey saw an average score of 9 out of 10 for how well the company has adapted to coronavirus pandemic, and judges congratulated the team for such a ‘strong combination of activities that have grown organically but with central coordination.’
The judges praised Hearst’s “strong combination of activities” that have clearly had a significant impact.