Mitch Austin is the Security Communications Manager at Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports with over 75.7 million annual passengers. As you can imagine, security is of the utmost importance at this international airport that serves 194 destinations in 80 countries. Mitch’s job is to oversee internal communications and colleague engagement across 3,800+ employees for the Security function.
Mitch took the time to speak with us about why security communications are so important, the biggest challenges he faces in this area, and how Beekeeper’s secure platform helps him address these challenges. Below are his Q&A responses to give you some insight into how our clients are using Beekeeper to improve operations, communications, and engagement to create optimal environments for their staff and customers.
1. Can you give us examples of why security communications are so important, especially at an international airport?
Due to the time-sensitive nature of the jobs we do, we make sure all our colleagues are up to date with what is happening across security quickly. Our widespread airport campus has many colleagues at multiple locations who never get to see or speak to each other. To perform our jobs well, we need to ensure our communication is effective and consistent to stay on the same page regarding processes across the airport.
2. What are the biggest challenges you face with security communications?
Protection, safety, and security are the main priorities at Heathrow Airport, but service also plays a major part in what we do. Well-informed and engaged colleagues deliver better service to our passengers which helps build our reputation and trust with our customers. The airport also runs 24 hours a day, which poses a challenge to our managers being able to see their teams face to face, due to shift patterns and location. So a channel where we can communicate with our people at any time of day and in any location is really important.
3. Do you also focus on employee engagement or strictly internal communications?
We focus on both as they go hand in hand. Employees who are well-informed and regularly communicate with the rest of the team and their line manager make much more engaged colleagues. This also provides a more positive and efficient working environment.
4. What has changed since Heathrow’s adoption of Beekeeper?
The major difference is the peer-to-peer communication. Employees are taking ownership of some of our company initiatives and sharing them across the business, colleague to colleague, rather than just having a top-down corporate message. Our feedback culture has taken more shape. Colleagues feel comfortable posting topics that concern them as they know their voices are being heard and acknowledged. We want to develop our feedback culture even further by adopting the survey feature. Without Beekeeper, we would only be conducting employee surveys once or twice a year.
Beekeeper incentivizes employees to voice their opinions to improve the organization. For example, colleagues voiced that the busses bringing them from the airport to the parking lot were always late. We had a meeting regarding new schedules and invited everyone involved to improve the process. These types of changes make everyone feel a sense of belonging and that their voices are being heard.
5. What do you and your team love most about Beekeeper?
The simplicity of the usage. The platform is very intuitive so we don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining how to use it. Heathrow colleagues span across all age groups, so simplicity is very important to cater to all technology skill levels. Beekeeper has allowed us to digitize some of our operational processes like colleague shift swapping and daily briefings. There are also benefits we didn’t expect like people sharing personal stories and recognizing each other’s achievements.