Internal Communications Advisor, Cogeco
Can you talk a bit about your background and how you became the Internal Communications Advisor at Cogeco?
I completed my degree in translation from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada in 2011. From there, I worked as a translator, editor, and copywriter within translation agencies, but I wanted to eventually transition to a corporate organization. I started to work for a financial firm, which is where I discovered the world of internal communications. I worked on the intranet and corporate employee events there for about four years until moving to Cogeco in 2019.
I am now the Internal Communications Advisor at Cogeco and sit within the broader HR team. This is new and exciting for me to be a part of the HR team because it relates very closely to the employees and who they are as people. I love that I’m able to have a direct impact in helping people by supporting collaboration and strengthening connections amongst employees, regardless of their physical location.
Role and Accomplishments
What excites you about your role and what you do?
Cogeco is a telecommunications company that provides customers with internet, TV, and phone services through broadband cable networks. Based in Quebec, Canada, we have about 4,500 employees spread throughout Canada and North America. With this, our employees speak different languages and work across different functions and locations – technicians in the field, frontline workers in stores, and corporate employees in the office or remote.
When I started with Cogeco in May, 2019, I had the exciting opportunity to implement our new LumApps intranet from the ground up. The goal was to improve our previous platform, make it attractive and engaging, approachable, accessible from any location, and bilingual.
I loved the process of building the platform from scratch – the drag and drop capabilities and widget-based functionality of LumApps made it easy to be creative and bring our vision to reality. With our new intranet, which we named Zoe, we’ve been able to bridge potential silos between employees (language, location, function) and provide new ways to connect together. It is great to see all teams collaborate together within their own pages and share successes so other teams can see.
I like seeing that our intranet is having a tangible impact on the way employees access the information at work and is making their life easier. I also like the fact that my role as an Internal Communications Specialist allows me to collaborate with the HR team and other departments on major projects, such as the launch of new products, the moving of the Montreal office, or the deployment of marketing campaigns during rebranding. In this way, I can use my creativity and develop new skills on a wide variety of projects.
Are there any unique or specific use cases you have within your intranet?
As I mentioned, there are language differences within Cogeco, specifically with our French-speaking employees in Quebec and English-speaking employees throughout other areas in Canada and North America. With this in mind, our intranet is completely bilingual, meaning there is a button option on all pieces of content and interactions that allows the viewer to automatically switch the language from French to English and vice versa.
Additionally, if you are a French speaker, your intranet is automatically set up so you see news and corporate updates and information in French. The same is true for English speakers and seeing personalized content in English by default when you access the intranet.
Two of the most commonly used features within our intranet are the Employee Directory and the Executive Corner. The Employee Directory enables employees to easily search for people within the company based on their name, title, department, or location. The Executive Corner is a dedicated space within Cogeco’s intranet for our leadership team to communicate with the broader organization. Employees can see the latest insights from the executives and interact with likes and comments. Not only are we providing a space to receive information, but also to have a voice and engage.
How do you foster employee engagement within your intranet?
Our employees frequently share articles, successes, and updates with each other, from workers on their desktop or on a tablet in the field. However, we are always looking to continue fostering engagement and community.
In the wake of COVID-19, we wanted to be intentional about our employees’ health and well-being. So in May, during Mental Health Awareness Week, we launched a photo contest community in Zoe wherein employees would remake a famous movie scene or painting. The results were so creative and funny. It was rewarding to see our employees get involved with their own photos, as well as commenting and liking their colleagues’ posts.
As we mentioned in the community, “Laughter is good for the body and soul. This contest was created to bring out the inner child within you, with so much uncertainty and change it’s time to have a little fun.” I’d say we succeeded!
Another way we’ve made progress with employee engagement is through Communities. During Pride Month in June, we created a Diversity Community to celebrate sexual and gender diversity, advance equality, and increase the visibility of these communities. Every week in June, we posted a new article featuring a diversity advocate, highlighting and celebrating the influence they’ve had in moving forward LGBTQ+ rights. Moving forward, we want to develop even more communities within the intranet and continue to boost engagement and generate conversation.
In the Face of Disruption
How have you seen COVID-19 affect your daily work? How do you see this affecting the future of the workplace?
As an Internal Communications Advisor, I’ve realized that we can never over-communicate. People are excited to see new content everyday with global and regional news. We’ve seen more likes, comments, and engagement than ever before. People want to connect in any way they can, because they don’t have the ability to do so in person as they normally would.
I think this will also change the perception of remote-working in the corporate world.
What is something you have accomplished in your current role that you are proud of?
With the impact of COVID-19, there were higher expectations and requests on our HR and Internal Communications team. Just like other organizations across the globe, everyone was working from home within a week, including our call center employees. It was a big challenge to make changes and communicate quickly and effectively to everyone. We communicated frequently, posted FAQs, created a dedicated COVID-19 resource page, and provided spaces within the intranet for employees to ask questions.
Even though we had to quickly pivot and update the way we were working, we were very happy to see our ENPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) increase a total of 38 points since the last survey in December. We also received a 88% score from our employee satisfaction survey with regards to how communications were managed during the pandemic. We’ve seen great successes as a team and are working on improvements everyday. Before, it was just disconnected emails and a very static intranet with only a few pieces of information. We love that our intranet platform with LumApps enables us to easily communicate to all employees and provides a space for everyone to connect and engage.
I often attend calls and meetings where people ask the presenters “Is this information going to be made available on Zoe?” This proves it has truly become a one stop shop for Cogeco employees.
“We’ve shown that with the right technology, it’s possible and even powerful to work remotely.”
Advice for Digital Communications Leaders
Based on your experience, can you share advice for other digital workplace leaders?
My personal advice is to not be scared to try something new or face a challenge head-on. Since I started my career as a translator, it was scary for me moving into the internal communications and digital space at first. All of a sudden, I’m designing and building a new digital platform from scratch, working with several teams across the business, and making a direct impact on the total organization. Although it was out of my comfort zone at first, I’m so glad I did it. Don’t be scared to try new things!
I’d also like to mention that women sometimes might experience impostor syndrome and feel scared to ask for recognition, increased compensation, or promoted positions, but that’s just false. As women, we should be lifting each other up and encouraging each other to own our space and be bold.
“As women, we should be lifting each other up and encouraging each other to own our space and be bold.”
Want to connect with Gabrielle? Follow her on LinkedIn!
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