Yellow is a New Zealand institution, known for delivering the iconic Yellow Pages business directory for over 60 years, which still circulates with over 90,000 searches a month. Today Yellow specialises in both print and digital marketing for small to medium enterprises across NZ. With a team of 130 people located mostly in Auckland, Palmerston North, as well as some remote team members, Yellow’s mission is to help small Kiwi businesses thrive by connecting them with their communities.
To deliver on this, Yellow intends to grow their digital offering and has established a culture of innovation and learning with the customer at heart. Recognising the importance of aligning an organisation’s internal culture with their overarching business goals, Yellow has also placed a special focus on employee experience to drive this innovation ethos from the inside out.
Jovita Stellmacher is one of Yellow’s People Experience Partners who focuses on Diversity & Inclusion programs in addition to general People & Culture operations. To develop Yellow’s employee experience, Jovita has overseen the implementation of reimagined employee feedback surveys and improvement plans in partnership with Culture Amp.
Challenge: Transforming complex HR processes
Yellow wanted to ensure that the company’s internal culture aligned with their progressive ambitions. They had begun uncoupling a legacy technology stack built around print and replacing it with lightweight, agile systems. People & Culture had been using an employee feedback tool in the years prior, but Jovita described it as “clunky”, creating a roadblock in their ability to achieve meaningful, strategic change.
“We used to have to pull a full spreadsheet manually. It was horrible. It made it difficult to take action and understand people in a deeper way,” says Jovita.
The Solution: Simple, agile human insights’ vocabulary
Eager to digitally transform HR processes, Jovita went in search of an alternative employee feedback platform.
The company explored several options, but Culture Amp stood out due to its fresh interface and user-friendly access to results. This meant results could be analysed and shared in different ways across various business groups including executives, managers and specific teams.
“Culture Amp makes it easy to view and convey the actions on the back of a survey. Teams can view their own results. It’s all much more accessible,” says Jovita.
In 2017, Yellow began using Culture Amp’s Engagement survey and a customised Diversity & Inclusion survey – the latter Jovita’s passion project. The company has since added Onboarding and Exit surveys and a custom weekly pulse survey in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These surveys helped the team to gauge employee sentiment throughout lockdown when most employees were required to work from home.
When rolling out major surveys, Jovita gets creative in how these are promoted and completed to ensure employees understand the purpose and enjoy the process. This includes survey action updates at company-wide meetings, reminder banners of upcoming surveys across pay slip forms, and desk drops containing survey completion guides and snacks. At the last engagement survey, Jovita even brought in a barista and provided iPads so people could complete the survey on the spot during a coffee break.
From the outset, they received great feedback about the process and platform, both in terms of usability and the ability to review results. While the process is optional, completion across Yellow currently tracks around 90%.
Results: A highly engaged, diverse workforce
After its first engagement survey, Yellow could easily pinpoint important areas for improvement using the data. Six months later, their second survey showed a staggering 27% lift in staff engagement.
“Our results were amazing. Really what came out of it was to keep doing what we were doing after the first survey. It was so positive,” says Jovita.
Diversity & Inclusion overhaul
Among the improvements, Collaboration and Diversity & Inclusion were cornerstones.
Jovita’s team have done everything from creating more agile work spaces so people can collaborate freely, to altering the lunchroom layout.
“It’s the simple things that can have a huge impact. People tend to stick to an ‘in’ group, so we wanted to push them out of their comfort zone and introduce a greater sense of family. We now have one long table instead of many small ones and it has been amazing. People have got to know others better and are now choosing to sit alongside people they may otherwise have had nothing to do with,” she says.
From a strategy perspective, Yellow has formed a passionate Diversity & Inclusion committee that marks various cultural celebrations and rolls out workshops, including unconscious bias training to all staff, new and existing.
Culture Amp’s feedback has also altered company communication. For example, business updates are no longer always run by executive leaders, with team members from around the business given the opportunity to speak.
“The recent Diversity & Inclusion survey told us that people find this empowering. It’s an opportunity for team members to own their work and helps with their sense of pride and value. The audience is very receptive; it’s exciting to hear from and recognise all parts of the company.”
Through this process, Yellow has shifted to a flatter organisational structure where leaders are more involved and consultative with all employees. They have also introduced new organisational language which has been wholly embraced and embedded into how we relate to each other.
“This stems on vulnerability, love and courage. We are encouraging everyone to be themselves, be vulnerable, ask the CEO, speak their mind. We’ve created a safe space where people can voice their opinions,” says Jovita.
Regaining control over culture
Importantly, Culture Amp’s data and depth of insights have put power back into Yellow’s hands to make the bold changes that are essential to the company’s future.
“Culture Amp is really progressive, it’s not just a survey. They really understand people deeply. I have also attended their seminars and panels and they ask the brave questions. They do things in an innovative way, and that really stood out to us,” says Jovita.
Custom insights for future agility
In addition to continuing to measure engagement with Culture Amp, Yellow hopes to gather feedback on specific company initiatives, such as training workshops.
“Custom surveys for specific events will give us that snackable content,” says Jovita.
She adds that Yellow will continue looking to the Culture Amp business for inspiration.
“I recently attended a Diversity & Inclusion Fishbowl with Culture Amp and they had an empty seat on the panel so people in the audience could come up and ask a question. I loved it; it was a great opportunity for people to show confidence. We have taken that idea and that’s how we’ll run our panel events in future.
“We really like how Culture Amp comes up with practical ways to do things differently.”