Eneco’s internal influencers (interview)

Petra is responsible for strategy, change and brand communication in Eneco through the use of formal and informal internal communication channels and resources. Christian leads a successful internal influencer program with which Eneco brings the brand and important themes from inside and outside the organization to the attention of employees. Together with a group of internal influencers, an involved organization is built up, where all employees bring the brand to life.

What do you see as the most important challenges for the internal organization, given the development in the market?

(Petra van den Enden:) ‘With the rising energy prices, it is important that we do everything we can to inform our customers as well as possible about their energy contract, their consumption and being able to pay the energy bill. We also notice that the demand for opportunities to save energy, insulate the house and the demand for solar panels and heat pumps has increased explosively. Naturally, we also help our customers with that.

And we are on our way to achieving our ambitious goal of being climate neutral by 2035, and further digitization is essential for that.’

Should employees be involved in all these developments?

‘Yes, it is the employees who deliver on the strategy and goals, and who live and breathe the brand in everything they do. We want to get our employees on board as much as possible in their knowledge, attitude and behavior and keep them involved.’

How do you do it?

“We do this by giving meaning to the strategy, stimulating dialogue about it, offering structure and rhythm in communication, but also by providing tools to act. Of course, we do not do this alone. There is an intensive interaction between internal communication, HR, branding, marketing (communication), customer experts and colleagues who are engaged in strategic themes such as diversity and inclusion, safety and integrity. Decisive here is the commitment of both formal and informal managers to involve the employees in the changes.’

You have a sharpened brand positioning. What does it do for employees in this changing context?

“The brand positioning and our brand promise ‘We do it now’ are naturally connected to our ambition and strategy. It is the translation of how we market ourselves and how we would like to be perceived as a brand. We involve the entire organization in this. Our Eneco Experience Compass offers tools to get our products and services, customer processes and customer contacts ‘on brand’. But we don’t stop there, because our employees must also experience the same brand experience within Eneco. This means, for example, that the pay slip and our onboarding process are located along the Eneco Experience Compass.’

How do you keep the focus of the organization as involved and focused on the customers as possible, with all the challenges?

‘It’s an open door, but without a customer you have no right to exist as an organisation. The most important principle is that the entire organization is conscious and imbued with exceeding customer expectations every day. Always ask the question “how does this benefit our customer?”, “what value do I add for the customer?”. That is of course easier said than done.’

“It is more natural for employees with direct customer contact than for employees who are further away from the customer. It is important that everyone, all departments, business units and all employees work together in the service of the customer and function as one team. The feeling that the customer comes into contact with Eneco should be right in all areas. Internal communication can contribute by showing what we do for our customers and by letting customers tell us how they experience Eneco and whether it is in line with our brand promise.’

What role do influencers play in this development? How do you implement them correctly?

(Christian Dietzel:) ‘The influencers have an important role in ensuring that information flows smoothly in the organization so that all colleagues know what is going on. In addition, they can provide feedback like no one else when they receive feedback on the work floor, so that senior management also knows what is going on at them. In addition, the influencers break through the silo thinking that lurks due to the structure of an organization. In this way, they build a bridge between departments so that they can help each other further for the benefit of the customer and the organisation. They do this, among other things, by very consciously displaying exemplary behavior in daily practice.’

What does Eneco do to retain valuable experienced people? Is there also a role for the influencers here?

“A safe, fun and spacious working environment is high on the agenda at Eneco. Programs such as Diversity & Inclusiveness and Safety work very consciously on this working environment. For the managers within Eneco, this means, among other things, that they listen well to the employees’ concerns. And that they make room for employee development, for good ideas and initiatives. This helps to ensure that everyone can optimally use their qualities and continue to develop. In addition, our HR department also conducts exit interviews, for example to learn about the motivations of colleagues who leave. Influencers explicitly contribute to the safe, fun and inclusive working environment by taking the lead, connecting colleagues or asking the provocative question when necessary.’

What do you think is the main argument that any organization should start an influencer program?

‘Every organization has its bottlenecks in day-to-day implementation, despite the fact that the strategy on paper is correct. It is often in the culture. By consciously showing them exemplary behavior in daily practice, these influencers help the organization work as it is intended. And transform it into an ecosystem of colleagues working together as one team for the benefit of the customer. It is also linked to the expectations and needs of the new generations of colleagues who expect a certain degree of autonomy, control and space that goes beyond that of your own department.’

What tip do you give?

Involve the management well, keep your eyes and ears open and give the influencers themselves a voice in shaping the roadmap so that it really comes to fruition through participation. Finally: keep believing and persevere!

More about this company visit at Eneco on 27 September

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