Kathryn Bridgford – Capita
In the latest IC Leader Q&A, we speak to Capita’s Head of Internal Communications, Kathryn Bridgford, to find out about their successes and challenges.
Tell us a bit about Capita as a business…
Capita is the leading provider of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services in the UK with extensive operations in Europe, South Africa, India and the Middle East. We have 73,000 employees in 25 countries. We have contracts split roughly equally across the private and public sector. In the UK you might talk to a Capita employee when you are renewing your council tax or TV licence, taking out a new mobile phone contract or when you are claiming a pension benefit with any number of leading pensions providers.
How long have you been in your role at Capita and what was your career development into the role?
My communications career started at AXA around ten years ago. I had joined AXA on a graduate scheme and the common interest I found in all the roles I undertook during the scheme, was how communication has the power to facilitate a successful business. In 2009 I joined Capita’s then Life and Pensions division as part of the outsourcing contract between AXA and Capita. I was appointed Head of Communications in October 2013.
What’s the internal comms team structure at Capita?
Capita is formed of divisions, reporting into the overall group. There is a small core of marketing and communications professionals at the centre, responsible for group communications on a large scale, including delivery of our core group email and intranet channels.
I lead a divisional team, responsible for communicating at a more bespoke level within that division, which has an audience size of over 30,000 employees. My team of six comprises communications business partners, communications and engagement managers and media managers.
What channels do you deliver including face to face?
Given the scale of our audience our face to face focus is on the Leadership team, and then on encouraging them to lead local face to face communications in their own businesses. We hold leadership events, hosted by our Executive Directors. We always communicate people change messages, which have a personal impact on employees, face to face.
Online communications feature heavily in our channel mix. We have a divisional intranet site which complements the Capita Group intranet, but focuses in more depth on news stories and business information that is relevant to our division and its objectives. Due to the sheer number of locations and employees we communicate with, we still rely heavily on traditional push mechanisms such as email news alerts and bulletins.
What do you prioritise in your role as Head of IC for Capita?
The business we support is fast changing. That means we need employees to be engaged with our business objectives, but also, importantly, with their local leadership teams. So as well as providing clear messaging to all employees via our channels, I also spend my time supporting leaders with communications for a huge number of change programmes, many of which will have people impact in some form.
Listening to and acting on employee feedback is also an essential part of my role. We use our regular employee pulse surveys to understand priorities for employees and engage with leaders across the business to facilitate engagement initiatives in response.
As in any large business, it’s hard to plan for everything. My reality is often that something will come up and divert my attention urgently, so reprioritising is also an essential element of my role!
How are internal communications positioned in Capita – what does the business look to you for?
We are seen as a strategic function, with engagement and facilitating business change as our two primary objectives. Our advice and consultancy on anything from managing a large TUPE programme to communicating an engaging reward and recognition programme is highly sought after throughout the business.
What have been the main challenges for your team this year and what’s in store for 2018?
This year we have faced unprecedented numbers of business change programmes while also having had to reduce our team size and recruit for a number of vacancies. Continual reprioritisation and team motivation has been a big challenge.
2018 looks exciting as we are preparing to use a mailing automation tool for the first time and we expect this to revolutionise the way we can segment our audiences and measure our messaging. We are also planning to roll out more social media platforms internally and will be eager to learn how this can help us improve engagement.