This interview was conducted with Wayne Bruce as part of our ongoing project to hear how our clients are enabling their employees to return to work safe, and stronger than ever.
After working with Bentley Motors for a while now, our Client Director Ruth Bourne was particularly impressed by the way Bentley had approached bringing people back to the workplace – both physically and mentally, with both furloughed staff and those that had remained working.
In March, Bentley Motors chose to shut down their factory, to protect colleagues and their families. Roughly 4,500 office staff were told to work from home, and factory staff were told to remain at home for the time being, on full pay. Once the furlough scheme became available, Bentley communicated this to their team, and identified the business critical processes that needed to remain working. Once it became clear that they needed to - and could safely- begin building cars again, Bentley were very aware of the sense of fear across the UK, and were concerned that those working on production lines wouldn’t want to return.
Bentley were delivering a weekly update and a company app, to stay in touch with those people that may not have work laptops - their CEO even recorded videos from his home to keep people up to date. Bentley were working on a series of changes around social distancing and hygiene, including re-mapping all of the systems around the production line. To show the thought and care that had gone into creating a safe working environment, Wayne and his team wanted to create communications that supported the CEO’s message about coming back stronger - a very clear call to action that everyone could get behind.
They also recognised that it wasn’t only the employees they needed to convince to come back, it was their families too. Bentley produced the ‘come back stronger’ booklet, reinforced by a video. This not only displayed all the aforementioned changes that had been put into place for the employee, but allowed them to share something tangible with their families to put their minds at ease too.
This information, as well as more operational updates, were shared before employees returned to work – and when they did, they were greeted by Board members in the car park, as well as ‘come back stronger’ banners to welcome them. They then had a full day of training to truly embed the new safety procedures before production began again.
Following this, communication began with the office staff to let them know that their way of working would change also – to reduce the density of people on site to allow more space for production workers and to remain safe in terms of social distancing, especially as Bentley have chosen to retain the 2 metre rule for the time being to keep employees as safe as possible.
The response to this messaging has been hugely positive, and Wayne believes this is down to the fact that ‘come back stronger’ message was “clear to people, the communication was consistent, it was human, it was transparent…it was led by the CEO.” All of this has helped to build trust in the internal communications brand.
When asked about lessons learnt, Wayne spoke about the importance of relying on instinct, and doing what feels right when faced with an unprecedented challenge. By being forced to learn to adapt quickly, Bentley Motors has become more agile in the way they work, and has built trust between people. By continuing to keep members of the office team working from home, Bentley Motors is also working to become more sustainable, with simple changes such as needing less energy in their offices and keeping more cars off the road with fewer employees commuting in to work every day.
Finally, when asked for his top tips for engaging with employees, Wayne said “be open and honest” – we couldn’t agree more.