Lloyds Bank intranet – a cautionary story for HR Directors
It is so rare that an intranet gets a mention in the press that a story about the Lloyds Bank intranet in the Business section of the Sunday Times on 15 February immediately caught my attention. It seems that Rupert McNeil, Human Resources Director, invited employees to leave comments on an intranet article that praised the bank. According to the Sunday Times the article praised “a fantastic team” and an “agile workforce” that made staff “more representative of our customers”. Employee complaints in response (according to Sharecast and the Sunday Times) covered the closure of the final salary pension scheme, morale at a 25-year low, inadequate pay, bureaucratic processes, a lack of support from the top managers and a skewed promotion process! The post in question was published in January. Rupert McNeil joined Lloyds Bank in 2012. According to the Sunday Times he has now left Lloyds Bank but apparently his departure had nothing to do with the intranet article.
Much is made of the benefits of intranets, “social”l or otherwise, in shaping employee culture. My experience is that an intranet is also a very good magnifying glass, highlighting issues with the employee culture. For example where are these issues there are often few, if any, blogs and discussion groups and very little employee-authored content on corporate news channels. Now that Pandora’s Box has been opened at the bank it is going to take some time for the incoming HR Director to sort out the mess. Indeed it may take a while to find a new HR Director under these circumstances. Moreover other potential recruits to the bank are going to think twice about coming on board and you can be certain that recruitment agencies will be picking up on the story today.
You would have thought by now that every HR and Internal Communications manager, not matter what the size of the business, would be aware of the power of social media to empower people who otherwise did not have a channel of communication. I have seen so many intranets where ‘communications’ is a one-way publishing channel with no immediate option for employees to respond to personnel initiatives. I am very grateful to Lloyds Bank for providing a very useful case study.