How Clarins UK Group is using Workplace to empower the email-less majority workforce

by Matthias Vanhollebeke

The UK arm of the iconic Clarins brand (Clarins UK Group) employs over 2,000 people. Here's the story of how Workplace, Clarins UK Group, and Workplace Partner Azuronaut worked together to connect all of them.

84% of Clarins UK Group employees work remotely on retail beauty counters all over the UK. With such a geographically dispersed team, there was a clear need to provide a solution that could connect them, give them a voice, and enable information exchange that would underpin future growth.

Whilst Head Office and field management teams were using email to stay in touch, there was no way to connect frontline retail employees apart from the traditional cascade from management teams. This meant that frontline employees didn't have the same level of access to internal communication as everyone else.

With this in mind, Clarins UK Group approached Workplace to provide everyone with a smart, easy-to-use and mobile-first work tool that would be more inclusive and enable two-way communication.

Business email addresses

To avoid the additional management and administration of issuing email addresses to the frontline, Clarins UK Group looked for a solution that would address the two main challenges.

  1. Email invitation links couldn’t be sent to personal email addresses due to company policy and for security.
  2. Creating a company email address for each frontline employee wouldn't add value but would require lots of extra work.

Workplace access codes

When Clarins UK Group launched Workplace in May 2018, the Workplace team was developing a solution to allow employees to sign up for Workplace without an email address. This would mean that users could activate their account with a unique access code and the Clarins UK Group team moved quickly to pioneer this new approach.

This solution was great but would only work if user management processes could be automated to successfully reduce any potential administrative burden.

IT: the glue that ties everything together

The IT department played a crucial role in this project. They worked to bridge the technical gap between the front and back end, and with third-party software suppliers. They also worked to clean existing data, outline key processes, and provide solutions for how data would display, which is testament to the success of a ‘big bang’ launch and the smooth running afterwards.

“Workplace has revolutionized the way that the IT Service Desk communicates with our frontline on a daily basis, allowing us to provide a greater level of personal service.”

- Steve Exeter, Head of IT, Clarins UK Group

Email-less API to the rescue

So how to deliver access codes to frontline workers? Hand delivering them was ruled out due to security and logistical issues. The Workplace Solutions Architect team collaborated with the product team to find the right solution: automatically generating new access codes via the Workplace API.

“Enabling the API with the functionality to create email-less users along with access codes allowed us to create a fully automated, email-less account creation tool.”

- Matthias Vanhollebeke, Solutions Architect at Workplace

Complete account management automation with Azuronaut

This addition to the API would prove to be hugely important given that Clarins UK Group now had the tools to scale and automate the email-less account creation process for all new and existing frontline employees.

For their technical deployment, Clarins UK Group turned to the Workplace Partner, Azuronaut. Azuronaut used this newly created email-less API to create ‘Mesh’, the first fully automated, email-less account management tool for Workplace.

“Business is all about the customer and front-line employees make the connection. Using Workplace with Mesh allows Clarins UK Group to connect every employee and save significant time and cost on Workplace user and group administration.”

- Alex Malbon, Co-Founder at Azuronaut

How Mesh works at Clarins UK Group

  1. Mesh detects whether a user is email-less or not and creates a new account for them.
  2. If a user is identified as email-less, Mesh generates an access code available through a web portal after users complete a security check. The user can then copy the access code and paste it into Workplace to create their account.
  3. Mesh then adds every new starter to specific and relevant Workplace groups based on job role, geographical region and which store group they work. This includes access to company-wide announcement and information groups to ensure they receive relevant communication to help them on their Workplace journey.

If an email-less user forgets their password, they can request a new access code through the same web portal to verify their identity. This is an automatic process that eliminates the need for IT or admin support.

The result for Clarins UK Group

This solution for email-less employees has revolutionized the process of onboarding and managing retail and non-retail employees.

“Workplace has given everyone at Clarins UK Group a voice. Two-way communication and engagement is now more agile and there is great collaboration with shared content across brands that inspires innovation. After just five months since deploying Workplace, we’d seen a reduction in employee turnover by 2%, which we believe that Workplace is a contributory factor”

- James Deren, Internal Communications & Engagement Business Partner, Clarins UK Group

By granting easy access to Workplace, Clarins UK Group has given all employees in the company a voice. It's also creating a direct line of communication between customers in store and the rest of the business.

As a result, Clarins UK Group has improved internal processes and built a stronger, more productive culture.

With huge thanks to James Deren at Clarins UK Group and Workplace partner Azuronaut

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