While the FRHI Hotel & Resort brands have storied histories, in 2014 a strategic focus on internal digital communications and its link to employee engagement was still new to the company. At that time, FRHI had recently reorganized, and the employees across the globe had little-to-no knowledge of the parent company and often felt only a connection to the hotel for which they worked. There was a lack of effective internal communication between the many hotels within the system on a variety of levels – time zones, cultures and languages, as well as a lack of strong community culture.

Addressing this challenge that year, the newly formed internal communications team established a vision of efficient, two-way communication based on achieving three goals:

  1. Increase awareness of FRHI as a brand among all employees.
  2. Facilitate system-wide employee communication.
  3. Reach employees whose email accounts were inactive and motivate them to activate those accounts.

Most importantly, achieving these goals would also mean eliminating departmental silos and increasing workplace collaboration.

Introducing Digital Communications:
Inspired by HR’s new employee value proposition, "ONE FRHI: Connect, Grow, Live," in April 2014 FRHI introduced something new. The company needed a platform that would be fun, easy to use, and that would get the attention of even the busiest employees: those that work in front of a computer and the employees who are consistently on-the-go in FRHI hotels. FRHI Talk became the digital communications solution to implement effective internal communications and engage with both these groups.  

FRHI Talk brings to life FRHI's employee value proposition – it is an online and mobile social network that is open for all employees to join. The content posted ranges from employee achievements, celebrations, hotel events, guest stories, community initiatives, questions and feedback.

Asking employees to try something new is never easy. How did FRHI get employees to start using FRHI Talk? With a creative, well-integrated roll out, it sought to promote awareness and adoption by:
  • Use of single sign-on
  • An integrated "Social Stream" on the intranet
  • Use of a mobile app
  • Bi-weekly digest emails
  • Use of monthly highlight videos
  • New streams and functional groups
  • Promoting other internal communications initiatives
  • Measuring users and content
The results of FRHI Talk have exceeded expectations. There are five areas that have been significantly affected:
  1. Adoption – more than 90 percent of the workforce with an active email has opted to join FRHI Talk.
  2. Engagement – generating on average 175 posts per week, engagement is linear.
  3. Behavioral shift – employees with inactive emails are seeking to activate, citing FRHI Talk as the reason.
  4. Internal communications satisfaction – in 2014, 86 percent of FRHI employees said that they were satisfied with the information about what is going on within FRHI. 
  5. Time/cost savings – FRHI leverages content from FRHI Talk to create cost effective videos. Because all content is user generated, the time involved in coordinating photos, music and video footage is also significantly reduced.

"FRHI Talk has taken off! It's very exciting to be able to go on every single day and get a glimpse of our organization around the world," said Michelle Crosby, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. "Seeing the pictures, reading the stories and getting a sense of what's happening out there in all of our vibrant and exciting destinations is really and truly gratifying. FRHI Talk is a way for us to connect with each other as people and share and celebrate some of the really interesting things that our properties are doing both within their hotels and within their communities. Needless to say, this is an online community that has been growing, and I think will continue to exceed our expectations moving forward."

Continued Engagement, Connection and Iteration:
Large, global and multi-branded organizations face a unique set of challenges; the use of FRHI Talk as an internal communications platform has met challenges head on. FRHI has  “consumerized” the enterprise. Rather than disseminate all messages top down via email, the implementation of FRHI Talk supports the social media habits that its employees already have; FRHI communicates with and to its workforce the same way it would with its family and friends.

About FRHI:
FRHI Hotels & Resorts is a leading global hotel management company that boasts more than 125 hotels and branded residential offerings in 35 countries with 45,000+ employees. Our brands include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, and iconic properties like The Savoy Hotel in London, Raffles Singapore, The New York City Plaza Hotel and Fairmont Banff Springs.