The launch of a new staff magazine at Southeastern Railway in August 2016 was viewed as a catalyst for change within the company, both to improve employee engagement and increase its National Rail Passenger Survey scores, having ranked close to the bottom on all measures in the Spring 2016 review, and languishing at just 25 per cent satisfaction for dealing with delays.
Internal research had already revealed that staff wanted honest and authentic communication, free from corporate spin, which celebrated their successes and was open about the struggles they faced.
The Southeastern Standard, with its strapline Your news, Your views, is a tabloid newspaper written in a conversational tone, with reportage-style imagery and clear design. The monthly publication shares stories, best practice and celebrates success. It does not shy away from complex and difficult areas of operations, including public perception of the one of the UK’s busiest networks.
Stories are linked to Southeastern’s values, vision and mission, while a regular 85 by 18 feature focuses on how the business is working towards achieving a goal of 85 per cent employee and customer satisfaction by 2018. Issue four, which was published in November 2016, carried stories on how staff were settling into the new London Bridge station, an enforcement campaign to tackle non-payers and anti-social behaviour and advice on dealing with winter weather conditions.
Issue five featured driver instructor Keith Waterfield who is also enjoying success on Spotify and YouTube with his band, the role of facilities and a story about eight colleagues about to embark on the Three Peaks Challenge for charity.
To commemorate the launch of The Southeastern Standard, a souvenir edition was delivered to colleagues’ homes while managers were provided with briefing boxes, containing tea, coffee, biscuits, a copy of the paper and notes to help them discuss top articles with their teams over a cuppa.
The newspaper is now distributed straight to sites and displayed in branded newsstands across the organisation. A ‘temperature check’ pulse survey was conducted in January 2017, six months after launch, to get qualitative and quantitative feedback on reader perceptions: 85 per cent rated the paper as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
The feedback also indicates topics of which the readers would like to see more, such as human interest and examples of good customer service, which has since been acted upon.
The publication has served to improve employee engagement across Southeastern, which has improved from 70 per cent to a record 75 per cent.