Working Out Loud in Action with Mikala Hehir,
Mikala Hehir is Head of Communications – Group at Australia Post. She recently spoke at Intranets 2016 on her experience of launching ourpost.com.au for Australia Post’s workforce. In this interview, we explore the lessons of that experience and its connection to working out loud.
Simon Terry: Ourpost.com.au is a public internet site but it is targeted at the Australia Post workforce. What do you see it as intranet, extranet or community site?
Mikala Hehir: I wouldn’t describe the site as public. That wasn’t our purpose. We don’t want the site to compete for our customers and other stakeholders with our organizational websites. For this reason it isn’t searchable. For us, going with an internet site was about accessibility in a large workforce. Without authentication more of our people could access it this way. We wanted our employees to be able to access the site whenever and wherever they are. When you have over 7,000 posties out delivering mail, that means making it easy for them to quickly check a device.
Does accessibility in this way help address the complexity and distribution of your business model with employees, franchisees, contractors around the country?
Mikala Hehir: Over 50% of our customer interactions are with people who aren’t employed by us. However, we recognise that our franchisees and contractors represent our brand and help deliver our experiences. We want them to understand what is going on in our business and have access to the right information
Was it hard to get support to make your site this accessible?
Mikala Hehir: Not really that hard. It was a CEO level decision so we needed to have a clear case, but we could explain the challenges and the need for accessibility. We were able to reassure the management team that we write for our employees with regard to an external observer in any case. We publish an employee magazine that we mail to our employee’s homes. I am sure it is read by others.
How does it change communication to be this accessible? What have you learned working in this way?
Mikala Hehir: The key issue is being clear on what cannot be shared which is not that much we were sharing. We won’t share financial or confidential information for example. A lot of what we share with our people is not that confidential. It has fostered a good discussion internally about how we make sure all our information can be shared. For example, we now ask “why can’t a policy go on the site?’ If it enables all employees to see it, then it is our preference. We would rather that employees can access it rather than have to go on a long search or rely on hearsay. Usually, it just requires some work to make the language clearer and align to our customer experience and brand. That benefits everyone.
We had a recent discussion about communications for managers to share with their teams. At first, we considered making it private. However, when we discussed it further, it was clear that there were benefits in sharing this communication to managers on the site. People are curious about what their manager is being told. Sharing talking points also means that if a manager forgets to share this information the team can still learn and ask for a conversation to happen.
The other benefit is the ability to update information and ensure we share always the most recent version. We are not relying on emails or hardcopy documents that get out of date.
For us, this site was about getting the right people in our organization to be able to get access to the information. Putting it on ourpost.com.au was about doing that in the quickest and cheapest way. The symbolic benefit of being a more open organization was a nice side benefit.