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Driving cultural change at Standard Life Aberdeen

Creating a unique, nudge-based digital learning campaign to support employees through merger and change.
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The Challenge

Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) formed to offer a world-class service for its clients. But first, the organization had to re-invest.

Although 87% of employees supported the merger, the survey also revealed what colleagues wanted most from the new organization. This was strong leadership and personal growth opportunities.

The challenge for SLA was to deliver a learning solution that could support colleagues during the early stages of the merger and help shape the behaviors needed in times of change. What’s more, the solution had to engage with a global workforce, be easy to use for employees familiar with face-to-face learning and work within strict budget constraints.

The Solution

To kick-start a cultural evolution, we identified desired behaviors from SLA's ‘mood survey’, based on five core themes:
  1. Change and Transitions
  2. Career and Personal Development
  3. Resilience and Wellbeing
  4. Diversity
  5. Inclusion and Effective Teams.
Next, we filmed over 50 SLA colleagues from around the world with practical experience on these themes to create a series of 100 videos. They opened up on camera, sharing stories and offering insights to support their colleagues at this challenging time. Launched in October 2017, the Leading Edge Challenge Series ran over 20 weeks to coincide with the early days of the merger. With video interviews from across the organization, the digital campaign showed that everyone could practice strong leadership. More than that, the campaign encouraged colleagues to look at themselves, step up and change their own behavior.
I found the Leading Edge videos very relatable, as they featured real colleagues talking about real situations and challenges they’ve faced here. They were short and snappy, and written in people's own words.
Drawing on the behavioral science of nudge theory, infographics and digital brochures joined the videos to offer bite-sized, relevant learning. Content was hosted on SLA’s learning portal, which all colleagues can access without the need to log in. That way, they could easily access this mix of content where and when they wanted to. Rather than overwhelm, employees could learn in short, habit-forming bursts. To promote the campaign, we worked with SLA to send out weekly emails, share social media posts and set weekly challenges that peers found to be effective. Developed with a business psychologist, these challenges encouraged people to try something new, change their thinking and nudge behavior in the right direction.

The Results

Since launch, 9,000 employees have accessed the learning portal, which has had 50,000 views to date.

To make SLA a world-class place to work, a change had to come from within. The Leading Edge Challenge Series showed people already living and breathing the new culture. Campaign nudges encouraged colleagues to join them. And content showed that anyone in the organization can lead.

As Peter Yarrow, Global Head of Learning at Standard Life Aberdeen, says:

"We’ve achieved something we can be really proud of, using a digital platform to make learning easy, attractive, social and timely to engage colleagues in learning during a period of significant change. The stories our own colleagues shared are inspirational and the results demonstrate the connection this has made across our global business.”

The campaign has lived on beyond the merger, too, with bite-sized content that’s changing the way people learn for the better.