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Communication is necessary for change

As part of a major change journey, last year SDC adopted a new collective agreement which affected all the company’s employees

Tine Skov MadsenFor Tine Skov Madsen, HR manager at SDC, change management is above all a question of communication. She is happy for the praise of the employees, but attaches greatest importance to the positive reassurance stemming from feedback.

– Change is not difficult when you control it yourself. Uncertainty arises when the process is controlled by third parties. Changes where other parties are at the rudder naturally cause uncertainty. This must be taken into consideration from the very start. If not, there is not far to go to uncertainty and mistrust.

As part of a major change journey, last year SDC adopted a new collective agreement which affected all the company’s employees.

Why did SDC move to a new collective agreement?

– SDC is on a journey of change towards a more commercial image, one in which we also offer sparring and inspiration in the intersection between business and IT. From a historic Danish perspective, today we are moving across the Nordic country borders. At the moment we are exploding powerfully in the Nordic market and expect to carry on expanding over the next few years.

– To support this, we were in need of a new and more flexible collective agreement. Therefore, in 2014 we switched to the financial sector’s standard collective agreement.

 


The good implementation of this project can only be ascribed to good preparation throughout the whole process and help when it was needed. As early as the project start it was clear to me that all hands were on the oars. Everything was prepared on your side, all meetings were pervaded by dedication, engagement and professionalism, which I found quite extraordinary.”

- quote by a satisfied superuser on the rollout of ProMark at SDC.

How did you communicate the content of the new collective agreement?

– The actual collective agreement is a long and complicated text, which must be communicated so there is no doubt about what it actually means for each individual group of employees. For this reason we invited employees to a number of information meetings at which we openly compared the old and new agreements to each other and focused on the changes which the changeover to the new collective agreement will mean of the individual employee.

What does this mean for time recording?

Medarbejdere hos SDC var glade for kommunikationenWe live from the sale of project hours. Therefore it is necessary to have an overview of the hours employees spend on each project. For employees to be paid the right salary for on call overtime hours etc. it is important that the underlying systems allow for the rules associated with each individual employee – and in SDC this depends on the collective agreement.

– This is why we decided introduce a new system of time recording – ProMark – in connection with the collective agreement which lived up to our requirements.

– From the very first day of using ProMark it was possible to record for all types of employees in accordance with the new agreed rules. We set up an internal network of superusers to manage the many queries about the use of the new system so everyone has a chance to obtain advice and guidance from a colleague. It was a huge advantage and a precondition for use being able to roll out the new system as quickly as we did. Otherwise the HR department would have been a bottleneck.

– Moreover the superusers greatly increased credibility. We set up the network very early on in the process so we could act as ambassadors in the organisation throughout the whole process. This helped to create trust and certainty in the process.

What did SDC do in particular relative to other projects?

– Communications in many change projects consist of an email to all staff telling them that now we were about to do something new. We knew that many employees would have a number of queries and worries. Therefore, it was important to contact the whole organisation in an extremely quick and focused manner.

– Step 1 was a clarification of who would be affected and how. Managers were affected in one way, employees in another. As a result we decided to adapt a segmented communication plan, using which we could reach out to the organisation with messages and angles tailored to the various target groups.

What was contained in the communication plan?

Tilfredse medarbejdere hos SDC We started two months before the rollout of the time recording system with information on our intranet. There was no detailed information at the time. We also informed the managers at monthly managerial meetings, as they had a special interest in learning more about the content, so they could help their employees.

– The superuser network was included as an active participated in communication. Another important tool was a series of training videos showing the most frequently occurring situations which explained how time recording would be performed and how the collective agreement was incorporated in the system.

– We relied a lot on analogue communications. This proved to be extremely effective. Posters were set up throughout the whole company. These showed an invitation to come and learn more about ProMark. These information meetings were extremely well attended. And this was something of great interest to the employees, as everyone in SDC must record their times, and the change in the collective agreement influenced their working conditions.

How were the information meetings arranged?

Orienteringsmøder blev afholdt løbende It was important to talk about both the collective agreement and time recording, as they were both connected. Therefore we had both HR and ProMark experts at the information meetings who were able to answer all questions.

All employees were able to express their opinions and make suggestions during the meetings. This gave us an effective tool for undertaking new and even more targeted communications which related to subjects which worried the employees and this we could use in such things as articles, improved guidance and video clips.

How did the first day go?

– There were Danish pastries and rolls in the canteen the day the rollout was implemented, and both the CFO and I myself and the rest of HR stood at the entrances and greeted everyone welcome. “Remember to record your times” was the main message which was repeated many times that morning.

It attracted attention while creating a good atmosphere. The superusers were given stickers and caramel toffees which they could distribute to all employees in their area that day and the following days. This increased positive attention even more for both the new collective agreement and time recording.

Images courtesy of SDC.

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