Spearheading communications for a merger and uniting two global company cultures with 16,000 employees can be difficult, but doing so in March 2020, the same month the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, presents an almost insurmountable challenge. This is what faced Ingersoll Rand during the merger of Gardner Denver, Inc. with the Ingersoll Rand Industrials segment to form the new Ingersoll Rand (NYSE: IR), a global provider of mission-critical flow creation and industrial solutions. As an essential business, Ingersoll Rand manufactures vital products to COVID-19 frontline workers – such as pumps for hospital ventilators – and there could be no production delay. The five-person global Ingersoll Rand communications team and Clairemont designed a successful internal communications program to unite 16,000 employees across 70 countries for a seamless Day 1 integration.
Ingersoll Rand set the goal to launch the newly combined company based on a Day 1 readiness list of go/no-go criteria, and to create a celebratory transition that would inspire employees and equip them to live out the company’s purpose – Lean On Us To Help You Make Life Better.
Based on research, the core team planned a company-wide Day 1 global celebration. With the target audience of 16,000 company employees, Ingersoll Rand set the following objectives and timelines:
Company Launch: Go live on time with all identified communications channels of the company by March 1, 2020, including intranet, company website, social media channels, Code of Conduct, Ethics Hotline posters and Purpose and Values posters.
Develop and deploy a comprehensive training toolkit for 200 site champions and all business unit leaders prior to March 1.
Host a live global town hall and Day 1 celebration at locations globally on March 9, 2020 with approximately 100% employee attendance, ‘Team IR’ pennants for each employee for photo opportunities and large banners at each location for employee signatures.
Employee Engagement: Increase employee satisfaction categories of “employee connectedness to company” and “understanding of long-term strategy” each by 2 points and maintain or improve by 1 point the rating that “leaders communicate a motivating vision” (maintain because the pre-Day 1 survey had an 80% rating, and that was already above manufacturing industry benchmark).
Financial Growth: Create a positive new company culture that would equip employees to meet quarterly financial goals in 2020, including strong margins, liquidity and cost savings of >$25 million.
Championing Success: Success sprang from preparation and disciplined use of Ingersoll Rand Execution Excellence, the engine to how the company is managed. Beginning in November 2019, Ingersoll Rand and Clairemont formed a site champion team of liaisons to brainstorm concepts, convey corporate messages to all 300 sites, share employee feedback, develop materials, assist with translations 2 and plan a site-appropriate Day 1 experience. All site champions participated in a virtual training, idea exchange and ongoing support network to ensure two-way communication with all employees.
Purpose and Values: To unite employees behind a common vision, IR launched a research-based employee task force that created the company’s new Purpose and Values. The comms team then designed a simple, compelling graphic and poster around the Purpose and Values, which were translated and distributed to every site. Employees engaged in Purpose and Values training sessions, personally connecting their own values to those of the company and preparing them to “think and act like owners.”
Corporate Narrative: The team leveraged the Purpose and Values to create the corporate story, merging two companies’ rich histories and highlighting its unifying vision across 40+ brands. IT and comms teams worked around the clock to build, test and prepare the new social channels and strategy, asset libraries, website (translated and tested for 70 countries) and intranet. To support employee engagement, Ingersoll Rand hosted an employee contest to name the new intranet, IR NOW.
Cadenced Communications: Clarity was key for unity. Employees received regular integration updates, personal leadership messages, the new Purpose and Values, and even a humorous Brady-Bunch-style video introducing the new leadership team to forge a personal connection. The intranet featured an evolving FAQ section and articles spotlighting business units so employees could get to know their new coworkers. The comms team crafted toolkits for leaders to deliver to suppliers, vendors and employees the week before company launch. Employees across the globe received a “what you need to know to function on Day 1” desk drop on March 1, followed by Week 2 desk drop with a company overview – translated into 15 core languages.
An Open Dialogue: IR leadership committed itself to live out one of the company’s core values to help employees “think and act like owners” by encouraging questions and two-way dialogue. IR hosted two live global town halls (complete with red-themed backdrops for a little “team spirit”) where 16,000 employees tuned in to a live Q&A section with CEO Vicente Reynal. The intranet housed a Q&A section and provided an email welcoming employee integration questions at any time.
Day 1 Celebration: Ingersoll Rand went “red” – the company brand color that conveyed excitement – for its Day 1 celebration. The integration team equipped each of the 300 sites around the world with a “party in a box” translated into the native language, featuring inaugural banners for employees to sign, posters touting IR’s new purpose, a pennant to wave, Purpose & Values activities and even catering ideas. (Red bon-bons, anyone?) Since many had to celebrate from home, site champions coordinated with regional HR personnel to provide localized support. All sites hosted their celebrations simultaneously while tuning into a live town hall with the CEO. With unity as the goal, the town hall featured live vignettes from Shanghai to Spain — real-time interactivity that bridged thousands of miles and enabled employees to virtually meet their new colleagues. Vicente answered Q&As and finished the town hall with an iconic selfie, capturing on-site employees in the background waving celebratory pennants.
The Ingersoll Rand Day 1 internal communications campaign united employees, bolstered financial growth and ensured the company continued production.
Company Launch: IR successfully launched all identified communications functions of the company by March 1, 2020; trained 200+ site champions and all business units prior to March 1; and hosted a live global town hall and Day 1 celebration on March 9, 2020 with 100% employee attendance.
Employee Engagement: Despite the pandemic and inability to travel and meet to integrate the global organization of 16,000, ‘feel more connected to the newly combined company’ improved 5 points to 77%, surpassing the 2-point target. ‘Better understanding of the long-term strategy’ increased 8 points, jumping 4 times the 2-point goal; and ‘leaders communicate a motivating vision’ maintained at 80%.
Financial Growth: By the release of the IR first quarterly financial results as a combined company after Day 1 event, IR delivered solid margins, strong liquidity at $1.6 billion with the quarter closing at $556 million of cash on the balance sheet and actions added up to more than $50 million of cost savings.
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