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Using Technology to Drive Employee Engagement at Kimberly-Clark

Kurt Drake, VP & Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark (K-C), founded in 1872, has a proud tradition of integrity and value-based leadership. Our core values of being accountable, authentic, caring, and innovative have guided the company for nearly 150 years. We bring these values to life by committing to continuous improvement in everything we do. In ethics and compliance, this means focusing on new ways to strengthen employee engagement with our program.

Last summer, what started as a simple search for one compliance policy on our company intranet grew into an opportunity to streamline our entire global policy framework, including re-imagining our engagement strategy and launching a new online, interactive Code of Conduct.

Here is our journey.

Like most large companies, K-C maintains dozens of policies, procedures, and instructions to guide the do’s and don’ts for employees. Of course, these are only effective if employees know there is a policy, where to find that policy, and what the policy requires.

Based on the employee feedbacks we received, we had the opportunity to substantially improve how we organized and stored our policies. As we re-evaluated our approach, we began with our employee end-users in mind. We brainstormed around a number of different questions. How do we want to engage our employees and support their day-to-day decision-making? How do we provide helpful, real-time information and business-friendly guidance? How do we push relevant information to our employees, rather than asking them to go on a scavenger hunt to find it? What is the experience that we want to create?

In answering these questions internally and benchmarking with peer companies, we envisioned a brand new online, interactive resource. We did not want to create another static online document repository or a PDF library. We wanted—and the business needed—a more dynamic resource to help guide day-to-day decisions.

"The online Code’s greatest value is driving our ethics and compliance core mission – business engagement"

In partnership with the business and key risk owners across the company, we identified the types of information that would most help employees in their day-to-day roles. We did not limit ourselves to policies; rather, we brainstormed a multi-media experience, including trainings, videos, and interactive search. Then, with the support of an outside partner, we brainstormed how to package it all into a user-friendly, compelling online experience.

Because the project started with a tangle of global policies, we first focused on streamlining and rewriting our global policies and instructions into something more manageable, covering our key risks. This resulted in a core set of global polices which followed a standardized, format, including leadership messages tied to our company values. We also re-wrote our Code of Conduct, going from 12,500 words to approximately 5,000 to simplify the guidance. We next addressed our key objective—engaging employees.

This past July, we launched our online version of the Code of Conduct, designed like a retail store front. Given that K-C is a consumer packaged goods company, this approach has resonated with our employees. As you enter the “store” through our K-C intranet site, the Code covers six sections, each accessible through a tool bar at the top of the homepage. The six sections mirror our business structure, and each begins with a 2-3 minute video from the leader of that business. Think of these sections as the “aisle end-caps” in our store. In turn, each “aisle” covers a related set of risk topics. For example, the financial integrity section—or aisle—covers internal controls, insider trading, and the like. HR risk topics are grouped together in a different virtual aisle. And so on.

Within each virtual aisle, all supporting risk resources sit on aisle “shelving.” These “shelves” include direct links to relevant policies and manuals, contact information for internal subject matter experts, access to internal homepages, and simple trainings and leader videos on each risk topic. Individual risk owners are responsible for stocking their shelves with the most current and relevant information and supporting resources. To deepen engagement, we challenged each risk owner to create an experience that drives “foot traffic”—web clicks—to their aisle.

Our store also includes an assisted search function—our chatbot, KayCee. Think of her as our customer information desk. She greets you on the homepage, answers your questions, and guides you through the online Code, step-by-step. All of these different features help make the online Code a simple resource for decision making, literally a one-stop shop.

Our online Code also enables enhanced data analytics and more proactive employee engagement. We can track the number of hits to different policies, trainings, videos, the frequency and types of questions employees ask, and the parts of the business that are most—and least— active. This allows us to focus our resources on the most important issues and proactively target parts of the business that might need additional support. Employees are no longer limited to searching for what they need. Rather, we are able to push information based on the analytics. Eventually we plan to push resources in advance of need. Our ambition is “right engagement at the right time to the right user.”

The online Code is an evolving experience, and we are continuously improving the resources and functionality. It has put us into new, exciting territory as a team. Through data analytics, we better understand how employees use the code and how they look for information, allowing us to proactively identify their needs so we can better protect the company. The overall end-user experience informs everything we do. Ultimately, the online code’s greatest value is driving our ethics and compliance core mission—business engagement.

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