Improving Employee Communications at HSBC

When you're given the opportunity to glimpse the communications function of a global organisation like HSBC - it can be fascinating. With 295,000 employees in 9,500 offices, how did HSBC’s communications team create a more transparent environment that encouraged employees to listen to one another?

This article was originally published on and if you’d like to read the article in full here’s the URL - otherwise, if you're limited with time, we’ve summarised the key points below:


Identifying the Issues

In 2012 a change in strategy was putting the organisation under strain and having acquired a large number of businesses, a clear divergent in organisational culture was apparent. HSBC additionally harboured an environment that supported hierarchical, top-down behaviour where employees felt that they could not speak up.


Developing a Solution - HSBC Exchange

To combat these issues, the communications team created HSBC Exchange - Pierre Goad is the Co-Head of Communications at HSBC comments:

“People have different variants of Exchange around the world. But basically managers call a meeting with their direct reports. Numbers work very well around 10 - under 8 and people feel exposed and more than 15 and a couple of people dominate and it becomes unbalanced. There is no agenda and employees talk about anything they want. The manager just listens.

“HSBC Exchange has allowed the employee voice to rise to the surface. And each employee has a seat at the top table because they influence the discussion at the Group Management Board. Senior managers get new insight into problems they were unaware of -- or discover what they thought they had fixed 18 months ago is still broken. If they don’t walk out laughing, they walk out crying as they can barely believe what they have heard.”


Like All Good Things, Start your Initiative with a Pilot

When introducing new initiatives into an organisation with 295,000 employees, proving its benefits and gaining support quickly are key components to success. A regional CEO showed support from the outset and within the first 7 weeks 3,000 people had taken part. The output from the exchanges are collated and presented to the Group Management Board along with business and executive committees across the bank.


The Results

Having run the initiative for a whole year, the communications team has reported that 25% of the company is completing an Exchange every quarter. They plan to keep up the momentum to ensure they generate the cultural change needed in 2014. Importantly, improvements have been introduced due to the feedback gathered during Exchange sessions.
Created on 17 March 2015 by Michael Christian. Last modified on 17 August 2018

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