The Gatehouse Blog

Partnering with Home Nations Commonwealth Games teams is proving a great employee engagement tool

The following is an extract from the Journal of Internal Communication. See if you qualify for a free industry subscription at www.internal-communication.com/joic

CGI is the fifth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world, Gina Galbraith, CGI’s UK Communications Director, shares her story on one of the elements they are using to help them continue to build the CGI brand internally in the UK.

CGI acquired the London listed Logica in 2013 and we had to take our people on a journey to understand and live the values of the new CGI. For the Logica people, they were not Logica anymore and for the 400 CGI members based in the UK, they were now part of a much bigger, local team. In 2014, our UK President set us the challenge of finding an innovative way of further building awareness of the CGI brand internally and externally.

The idea

CommonwealthOne of the activities we considered, mainly from an external brand awareness perspective, was to partner with three UK teams – England, Scotland and Wales – for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The values and ideals held by the teams around talent and commitment to excellence closely reflect our values, making CGI a natural partner for the teams and their outstanding athletes. The more we talked about it, the more we realised that this could actually be really powerful for our members and would support a number of our existing CSR, wellbeing and employee development initiatives. So rather than sponsoring the teams for external marketing purposes, we decided to approach it as an internal campaign to create a feel-good factor and inspire our people.

Working with the teams, it took us nearly a year to build our comprehensive Commonwealth Games Programme around a number of core “pillars” of activity. We wanted to create a good spread of different initiatives ensuring we leveraged maximum benefit from our budget whilst appealing to the widest audience – after all not all of our people are budding athletes or even enjoy watching sport.

The partnerships

Through the partnerships, we get access to athletes, teams, tickets, events and coaches, which we use to create experiences that money can’t buy. We have our “Have a Go” sessions, where we take sport into the workplace (e.g. table tennis); supported by our wellbeing programme, Oxygen, we have developed an Inspiration Zone where we host Friday webinars run by leading sports nutritionists, psychologists and coaches. Later in the year, we’re planning a ‘Hero to Home’ competition for people to win the opportunity to have a sports coach come along to their local school. There’s a real wow factor in giving the school and the kids access to someone high profile. We also have volunteering opportunities such as the youth games in Samoa, where two of our people spent their Saturday with Team Wales helping kids prepare. They were completely blown away with the experience and commented how proud they are to be working for a company supporting the next generation of talent. Finally, we’re running a ‘Race to the Games’ competition and ultimately, we’ll send one of our people to the Gold Coast for a trip of a lifetime during the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

As part of our programme, we’re also sponsoring nine SportsAid athletes and will have three elite athlete ambassadors. SportsAid is a charity that sponsors junior athletes with national level potential. We get to go on a journey with these athletes and when you hear some of their stories and see what our SportsAid and ambassador athletes are doing, it’s hard not to be inspired, whether you like sport or not. This is what we’re seeing internally in response to what we’ve been doing.

Sporting success vs. business success

It is possible to draw many parallels between what you do in a business environment and what these athletes aim to achieve on the sporting field and this is something we do a lot of at CGI. We have professional athletes and sports people come in and talk to our people about everything from training, health, lifestyle, psychology in sports, to the parallels between the sports and business environments. At the end of the day, we all have a desire to succeed. The reality is that if you apply the principles of what it takes to be a successful athlete to a business environment: what makes a good team; preparation; goal setting; self-awareness; and a desire to win, the principles of success are the same.

This programme has become a ‘golden thread’ that’s joining up a lot of different activities. We’re able to connect different pieces together and translate these messages to our people through various channels like our health and wellness programme, our talent and leadership development programme and our Inspiration Zone webinars. It underscores how – although people think these types of sponsorships are only for external marketing – actually, sometimes the best audience can be internal. Our people are now sharing the stories of our sponsorship externally with clients and their friends and families. They are building our brand better than any marketing campaign could do by actively sharing and demonstrating our brand values.

BIOGRAPHY – GINA GALBRAITH

Gina Galbraith is the UK Communications Director at CGI.

Having worked in global communications roles for more than 15 years, she has extensive experience of mergers and acquisitions, senior executive change, strategy reviews, brand programmes, crisis communications and employee behavioural change.