The Xplore Employee Engagement Experience
The Xplore Employee Engagement experience

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In August 2011, Bank of America announced it would be exiting the credit card business in Europe, which meant any number of outcomes, including closure or sale for MBNA. A creative engagement strategy known as “Xplore” was designed to positively tackle employee uncertainty, which not only maintained and improved scores in highly unpromising circumstances, but also financial performance and customer satisfaction. It focused on creating an exciting journey of personal career development, and transformed the mind set of colleagues to best influence the sale of the business; supporting colleagues in dealing with uncertainty and helping them view change positively.

• Despite a substantial redundancy programme and great uncertainty, engagement has increased -In 2010 engagement levels for MBNA as an integral part of the parent company was 53%. By 2012, engagement rose to 70%.
• Attrition rates fell over the course of 2012 from 10.8% to 7.4%.
• Absence rates held steady from March 2012 to December 2012 at just under 4%.
• Customer service has improved. Customer “delight” scores rose from 43% in May 2012 to 49% by December 2012.
• Softer business results are no less compelling; colleagues speak not with fear of uncertainty, but with excitement about their journey.

Many businesses are reluctant to invest in people when faced with great uncertainty. But MBNA decided on a different approach, focusing on self-development and helping colleagues understand that, during their time with the organisation, they had the opportunity to equip themselves for the future.
Three core levers underpinned the engagement strategy: engage, enable and empower. The use of these three simple but powerful words meant that it resonated for every level of the organisation.
The title “Xplore” metaphorically reflected the position in which MBNA colleagues found themselves. Explorers don’t always have certainty and often find themselves in unchartered territory. Explorers have a relentless curiosity, make mistakes, but crucially succeed by going on difficult journeys.[/one_half_last]

The key to Xplore’s success lay in the business “owning” the programme rather than HR. Over ninety key engagement ambassadors, “Xplorers”, responded to the programme, bringing the spirit and meaning of Xplore to life for the business. However the group size created communication challenges; it was difficult to engage with such a large group on a meaningful basis and difficult to build peer to peer cross functional relationships. As a result, a smaller group of “Chief Xplorers” have been identified for 2013, creating a connect point between the local Xplorers delivering activity out in their business areas, the different business functions, and HR, in order to maximise best practice and knowledge sharing.

The future of the business is unknown, but inviting people to ‘shape our future – be part of it’ focused the hearts and minds of colleagues on a compelling journey rather than the destination.
Taking a non-corporate and creative approach to engagement, using a metaphorical theme to demonstrate understanding of colleague needs, and tackling their fear and approach to change has ultimately led to a positive impact on key business measurements (as described above).
Xplore has been instrumental in increasing the recognition of the impact of employee engagement in the business – In 2013 a key business strategic imperative is to improve engagement, at a time when the financial services sector is suffering a reputation for putting short-term financial expediency ahead of long-term people development.[/one_half_last] Speaker
Marc Whitmore
Head of Organisational Effectiveness
MBNA Bank of America

Marc is the Head of Organisational Effectiveness for MBNA part of Bank of America. He has accountability for oversight of the team that is responsible for the end-to-end delivery of Organisational Effectiveness, which includes Organisation Design, Executive and Leadership Development, Performance Management, Culture, Organisational Change Management & Employee Engagement, Diversity and all Talent Acquisition activities.