Third Bridge Case Study
Third Bridge Uses Feedback to Retain and Educate During Rapid Growth
In an industry beset by declining fees and a rise in algorithmic investing, the financial management firm Third Bridge is still growing. In the decade following the 2008 recession, for example, Third Bridge grew to 900 employees. The organization’s advantage is its humanity, and it wears this badge proudly. The “About Us” section of its website begins with, “We attribute our continued growth to the quality of our people and the skills and knowledge they possess.”
Third Bridge is a financial management firm that uses research and narrative to empower investors and business leaders to make educated financial decisions. Third Bridge is headquartered in London with offices in China, NYC, and LA.
1,500 across the globe
As the company explains, those skills and knowledge are the result of constant internal feedback to the HR team about professional development. However, with size, came new difficulties. New employees and hires brought an infusion of sometimes contradictory ideas, investment strategies, and security policies. This led to some employees feeling directionless. There was a fading sense of identity and increased churn.
Leadership and management gathered and realized that to know how to rectify the emerging issues, they’d have to first understand them. And for that, they needed data.
With their new initiative to gather people and performance data, management hoped to accomplish three things:
- To retain their existing talent as they continued to expand personnel and operations across three continents.
- To train junior managers and equip them to grow and advance their career.
- To gather survey data without disrupting its many existing channels of communication, like Slack.
The retraining was needed to unearth and reinforce the values that had made the business great, across geographies. While those values were clear to some, they weren’t clear to all. To reduce churn and prevent promising talent and managers from leaving, they needed clear paths to promotion within the company—and to know which paths would be valuable. And finally, the company needed a feedback system that adapted to its existing workflows, not the other way around. At their new size, it was unrealistic to expect employees to change to adapt to yet another system.
Third Bridge leadership evaluated several solutions and selected Betterworks Engage, which allowed them to send frequent, tailored surveys to different business lines or teams. They could standardize those surveys, to benchmark and measure sentiment in offices around the world, and they could provide opportunities for employees to give in-the-moment feedback.
- Geographically distributed → Multilingual surveys, local roles and permission sets
- Need for detailed feedback → Custom surveys
- Need for ongoing feedback → Frequent pulse surveys
- Many ways to reach employees → Flexible surveys that work across channels
- Need to understand career expectations → Option for anonymous responses
Engage surveys are multi-modal, meaning they can be completed within the company’s existing channels, like Slack, or in the mobile app, or from their desktop. These responses were then passed to the firm’s HR management software, saving the HR team time that they’d otherwise have to spend pulling data into CSV files and reuploading it.
In addition, Betterworks Engage provided clear reports that managers across the business could understand and act on. Their bosses and HR could then use this data to set action plans—a series of tasks aimed at creating the desired improvement. This also allowed the team to measure improvement based on what was getting checked off, and whether it was on schedule. HR and management were able to review the data as a team, decipher what it meant, decide on next best actions, and use Engage to assign and track actions through to completion. pulling data into CSV files and reuploading it.
Ensuring that we keep our global team engaged while listening to them in real-time was always a challenge. Engage has helped us change this from a challenge to a strength.
Head of HR, Third Bridge
The ability to provide anonymous feedback freed employees to say how they really felt. With more honest responses, management was better able to understand areas where career progression seemed lacking, as well as the sorts of opportunities that their employees were being offered elsewhere. Knowing about competing offers allowed them to not only outmaneuver poachers and retain employees, but to make their own offers to new hires more attractive.
All this led to a change in training policy, where managers earned more autonomy to select their career track. It also led to a more rewarding and better aligned pay structure and inspired changes like removing and reimagining some steps from the onboarding process, making it both shorter and more effective.With a firm grasp on which departments and individuals understood the firm’s values, the organization was able to organize training around sharing between departments. Those values are now reinforced continuously, right from each new hire’s first day.
Third Bridge now reports having faster and more in-depth action planning and pulse survey feedback feeds a virtuous cycle of positive change. Because of action planning, employees can see that management cares, and so feel more invested and more likely to respond. And when these actions visibly improve working conditions, like when management aids them in planning their careers, it has become harder for them to ever envision leaving. Today, managers and employees report feeling more autonomy, and the churn the company initially experienced has declined.Response rates to surveys are now 85%, far higher than the industry average of 60%. In some departments, it’s as high as 98%. The very presence of a feedback mechanism, paired with clear evidence that it’s being used to guide policies, shows employees and managers that leadership is employee-centric. That in turn inspires them to be more customer-centric. And that has helped the organization stay true to its foundational values as it grows, and remain great.
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