It’s a proven fact that when people cooperate by pooling skills and resources, and put their mind to a common goal, they can achieve almost anything. And independently, JOMC and Hill Solomon have countless success stories to back this up.
Now, with a full-scale merger of the two companies into Tribe Culture Change all but complete, Mark Ormond, its Managing Director, says they fully intend to practice what they preach:
“Not only can we help you understand what’s really going on in your workplace, like why staff behave the way they do. We can help you spread messages that change things for the better at every level – with one joined-up team.”
It’s a proposition borne out of the perils that face every business with budgets tighter than ever:
“Companies have had to choose between either the insight that a consultancy brings, or the creativity of an agency when they want to improve safety engagement and performance.”
“So what they’d end up doing is spreading their budget too thinly between separate suppliers, or focusing on the wrong area. When in reality, it’s not an ‘either/or’ choice; it’s a combination of both that has the most impact.”
Clare Solomon, Creative Director at Tribe, reckons it’s something clients have been demanding for a decade, since JOMC and Hill Solomon began collaborating together on pitches for clients like BAE Systems and Mondelez International:
“When we first started working together, people saw it straight away – that it was a joined up thing – even though we were two separate companies with different strengths. They always saw culture change as one big mix of Hill Solomon’s training and communication tools, and JOMC’s people development.”
A special blend of art and science
To illustrate how Tribe will work, they give the example of a company whose employees are struggling with recurrent back injuries. In the past, Hill Solomon might have created an awareness campaign with toolbox talks, posters and films about manual handling behaviour. Whereas JOMC might have approached the same problem with a culture survey to reveal the root causes of why staff take risks while lifting.
Of course, in isolation both strategies will work, and continue to do so. But coupled together, the insightful, forensic approach and the exciting, impactful approach reinforce one another. That offers clients huge potential for even longer lasting results, as Mark explains:
“It’s the breadth of expertise brought much closer together that makes Tribe really interesting, and it’s how we’re pushing this to the next level for our clients that makes us unique. We’re not using any one medium or approach. We’re using a whole range of tried and tested tools here, mixed with innovation. But always the right ones for the job, in the right proportion.”
Clare expands his point:
“People are emotional and rational beings. The consultancy bit gives you the insight, facts and deep intelligent understanding, but you’ve got to connect with people emotionally to get them to change in their habits.”
“For instance, we might turn a training session into an immersive storytelling experience, with on-stage actors, or use champions to kick start a viral video campaign… whatever is the best fit for the client. It’s about getting the message right to satisfy our rational brain, then appealing to our emotional brain to make sure the messages stick.”
With Tribe now officially launched as of mid-June 2016, JOMC and Hill Solomon are undertaking a culture change challenge of their very own, as they assimilate offices and employees in Blackpool and Buckinghamshire.
Yet Mark brings his usual optimistic realism to the opportunities and risks that arise from bringing any groups of people together for a common cause:
“The thinking behind Tribe germinated about two years ago in an article I wrote. It’s that there’s no point pretending any organisation is one big happy family. Organisations are more like groups of people with shared attitudes and beliefs who’ve agreed an uneasy truce for the sake of day-to-day progress. So you’ve got to look at what bridges you can build to unite these different tribes.”
Clare echoes his sentiments:
“People bring different values, priorities and history. You’ve got to work with that, not against it, by motivating and inspiring them to be successful. Groups of people cooperating always achieve more than they ever would on their own.”
She says she hopes to “bring a bit of joy into people’s lives” with Tribe, and is the first to admit that health and safety has traditionally been “a bit of a bone-dry subject”. Instead, she wants to help clients build businesses that people want to come and work for, with fitness and wellbeing at their heart, whatever tribe someone belongs to.
Mark shares a similar ambition:
“I think business can be a great force for good. It can inspire people, make them fitter and healthier, essentially making the world a better place. But in reality that doesn’t always happen, organisations focus on making money; the end result being employees who are at best apathetic, or at worst, getting hurt and killed, which is immoral, expensive, as well as bad for customer reputation.”
There is an achievable alternative though, one he hopes Tribe can offer:
“The fact is, and we saw this time and time again as JOMC and Hill Solomon, that healthier and happier staff aren’t incompatible with commercial success. If anything, the two are inseparable when you do it right, with the kind of sustainable, engaging culture change that Tribe stands for.”