Argyll Community Housing Association
Case Study

Argyll Community Housing Association

Improving communication and culture with employee intranet software

Industry: Housing
Company Size: 250+ employees
Set Up: Office-based and off-site employees

Argyll Community Housing Association is a charitable organisation, providing affordable social housing across the region. As the eighth largest housing association in Scotland, they offer more than 5,000 homes available for rent, spread over multiple locations across 11 islands in Argyll and Bute. The association is also involved with building new homes, providing support to tenants, and offering a factoring service to private owners.

  • Increased engagement and teamwork across a distributed workforce
  • Improved accessibility of internal communications to boost employee experience
  • Enhanced existing culture with a focus on modern and fun employee communication

Strategic Challenges

Absence of a shared internal digital space or intranet

Absence of a shared internal digital space or intranet

The initial aim of the project was to introduce a central channel, a company intranet to enable better communications. There was no existing internal communication solution in place. Instead, the organisation relied on mass emails and video calls to distribute essential business updates to the entire company.

Employees had varying levels of direct communication with their wider teams and management. The HR team wanted to reduce the number of ‘all company’ emails sent. They wanted to distribute this information in a more centralised platform that enabled employees to feedback to senior management, with reporting tools to understand engagement.

The association wanted to become more fun and engaging in its internal communications strategy. They identified an existing state of ‘top down’ leadership, which the HR team wanted to become more collaborative and inclusive.

Lack of accessible communication channels for many employees

Lack of accessible communication channels for many employees

Since lockdown, the team have adopted a blended working model. Employees work remotely or on a hybrid schedule across the widespread Argyll and Bute area. This includes property services and housing teams, alongside fully remote employees such as maintenance engineers who work for a subsidiary company.

As a community-focused organisation, regaining organisational visibility in the local area following the pandemic is a key priority. This aim can only be achieved by employees working flexibly, out in the field visiting properties and speaking with tenants.

This made it vital for all employees to have access to communications and a social employee intranet on the go. Many of the teams working in the community don’t have regular access to a computer, so an internal communications tool that would work on mobile devices, such as phones or tablets, was essential.

Limited in-house resources for implementing intranet software

Limited in-house resources for implementing employee intranet software

During the proposed sign-on and implementation phase for a new intranet, the organisation was in the process of introducing an updated housing management system. This was a huge internal project with many dependencies, so the HR team would have limited access to development expertise in-house.

For the communications project to be a success, any intranet provider would have to be able to provide hands-on support throughout. Their requirements from the new supplier were initial demonstrations, senior management presentations, full implementation support and continuous improvements.

Solutions and Results

Enhanced teamwork and collaboration with dedicated newsfeeds

Enhanced teamwork and collaboration with dedicated employee intranet newsfeeds

Argyll Housing have set up three distinct employee intranets to improve teamwork and collaboration across the entire workforce.

The central newsfeed is used to distribute company announcements and improve overall company culture. This has so far been used for formal business communications and announcements. Thanks to real-time engagement functionality, HR can understand and evaluate how their employees engage with their messaging. All team members can react or comment on each announcement, creating a more inclusive communications structure. This in turn also helps the HR team to create more engaging posts.

A secondary set of newsfeeds has been created to encompass various departments. Argyll Housing has employees carrying out similar roles in vastly different locations, working collaboratively to achieve company goals. Historically, sharing company knowledge and best practice was difficult and limited to email or Skype calls. Now, the team have a central repository with document management to share files and store them in one central location. The aim of this is to encourage employees to discuss their roles and enable development in the digital workplace.

The housing team is distributed across both mainland and island locations, with multiple properties and team members on each. Each separate site has its own newsfeed, with a planned ‘virtual noticeboard’ for each office in development. This area will be less corporate, helping staff members to stay informed on location-based updates, alongside employee contributions and general discussion.

A more connected, fun and culture driven organisation

A more connected, fun and culture driven organisation

A planned project is the launch of a ‘Social Marketplace’, an initiative that was once popular amongst employees. Originally held in a public folder on the network, the HR team plans to introduce a dedicated employee intranet area for social networking and non-work-related conversation.

For internal use only, Argyll Housing plans to introduce a dedicated area for employees to converse and help each other outside of work. Employees will be able to use it in innovative ways; to sell unwanted items, ask for recommendations on places to visit or offer advice about local services.

There’s already been some movement in this area, with one employee taking the initiative to sell some concert tickets via their departmental intranet. Using the platform in this way is encouraging colleagues to use the solution more regularly. This will enhance future engagement with the business side while improving company culture and team morale.

Reduced employee engagement survey costs

Reduced employee engagement survey costs

Historically, the Argyll Housing team took part in an annual employee engagement survey. This was carried out through an external provider, who collected the data, collated results and provided detailed reporting. This provided a snapshot of employee sentiment which was useful but didn’t share data on ongoing developments and improvements.

Using external providers for engagement surveys carries a high cost. The annual price for all the features of the StaffCircle platform wasn’t that much more than their existing annual fee, allowing them to implement their desired employee intranet project and enhance employee engagement with in-house surveys.

The full suite of employee engagement and culture tools included in their StaffCircle solution layers three types of survey to create a holistic overview of employee sentiment on-demand. This allows a better insight into employee culture improvements over time, with pulse surveys providing real-time feedback.

Important information always in line of sight of employees

Important information always in line of sight of employees

The HR team’s favourite feature of their new communications tool is the ability to ‘pin’ important information. With an already-busy newsfeed of company information, they’re able to highlight the most important updates to increase engagement.

After years of relying on mass emails to distribute information, the social functions provide insightful feedback. Employees can now ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on each post, opening up the space for discussion and a more inclusive culture. Paired with Argyll Housing’s new leadership strategy, StaffCircle’s employee intranet portal enables more employee-focused interaction.

The way StaffCircle communicate is refreshing. The team have been really hands-on during all stages of sign-up, implementation and continuous improvement. They are very customer-focused and are working collaboratively with me to develop the perfect solution for our organisation.

The little touches, like a personal welcome message from the CEO, make you feel reassured and supported straight away. I believe that the development of our leadership program, coupled with StaffCircle’s communication tools and employee intranet, will help our culture continue to improve.

Colette Benham
Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services