Can insurance be fun and serious in equal measure? Hollard, the largest privately owned insurance group in South Africa, thought so, believing seriousness without fun stifles innovation and teamwork. In contrast, MET, Ghana’s most revered insurance underwriter, focused on procedure and results and had little room for fun. Hollard’s acquisition of majority stakes in MET had therefore created a culture clash. MET’s team had to be persuaded that a dose of fun and a high tolerance for daring ideas could improve results even further.
Seminars and training on culture aren’t exciting.
We enabled MET to embrace Hollard’s culture without a single workshop, lecture or seminar. We created an immersive experience for the current MET staff that launched them into a travel-themed itinerary of ushering staff into a hands-on understanding of the new vibrant company culture.
An internal launch event was held, where travel-themed cocktails were the first clue. Unknown to staff, they were gearing up for a 6-week flight that would take them from MET to Hollard.
MET staff arrived at work on a Monday to meet an aircraft, Purple Air, in front of the main entrance of the HQ, complete with flight attendants welcoming them on board. Staff were given boarding passes which, beyond teasing staff about what lay ahead, bore alphanumeric characters that enabled us to randomly sort staff into teams for activities ahead.
Just as safety rules are explained by the captain and demonstrated by flight attendants before take-off, just as staff were settling behind their desks, the office PA system rang out with the MD’s voice throughout the entire office, alongside gesticulating flight attendants welcoming staff on board Purple Air and giving the still amazed staff an indication of the rules they’ll need to abide by over the entire flight from MET to Hollard.
MILES, MILES, LOTS OF MILES
It was a day after staff’s first encounter with the aircraft and we needed to keep the momentum, so just about when staff were settling in for the day we again simulated a real flight experience with flight attendants and trolleys serving cookies, drinks and flight itinerary. Concurrently, the cabin crew’s voice came over the P.A. system sharing the historical connection between cookies and travel as well as discussing flight itinerary.
The itinerary included hints of activities lined up for the entire flight (internal campaign) period and included scored activities that would enable teams to gain or lose miles. Rewards for the three top performing teams encouraged active participation.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Things were ramped up over the weekend to maintain the campaign’s momentum. Posters with astounding facts about boundaries people have surmounted were placed in the wash-rooms, inverted so they could only be read in the mirrors. The hangings were changed to reveal new facts each day and each one’s conclusion challenged staff to think, ‘What else is possible?’
We filled the few weeks ahead of the big public announcement that MET was now Hollard with enough activity to excite and subliminally change culture without disrupting staff’s work schedules.
Through ‘playing with balls’ they honed teamwork across functional groups and hierarchies. They took calculated risks with Jenga, a fun game that forced teams to be daring enough to reach great heights. They pushed their minds in an exciting memory game; ‘How long will you last?’. The final game, ‘What do you know?’ brought in Ghana’s most energetic quiz master, Dan Afari Yeboah, who led the teams to battle each other on how well they knew Hollard – being the final opportunity for teams to race for top position, the scoring mechanism was such that it enabled lagging teams to leapfrog competitors if they performed well at this stage.
The day for the big public announcement of the MET-Hollard merger was drawing close and activities over the last few days were subtle but focused on the Hollard way.
Purple Air touched down in Hollard after the exciting journey from MET, the Captain’s voice came over the P.A. system that morning informing all about duty-free shopping, as flight attendants bustled around distributing packages which included staff’s new Hollard branded business cards, T-shirts, etc. MET was now Hollard.
5 exciting activities, 12 inspiring stories about amazing human feats, over 80% staff participation, teamwork between management and staff and a new insurance company with the zeal to reach new heights instilled in it.