How Appraisd helps The Stage Media Company hear their employees’ voice

Streamlining the reviews process by centralising everything in one place and giving employees a channel to express their views and raise any concerns

The stage case study
of reviews completed in the first cycle
performance objectives set in first full year
development objectives set in first full year

An outdated paper-based system where forms could go missing or important information got locked away never to be seen again, was the catalyst for The Stage Media Company to look for a new solution. The publisher's need for change led them to a centralised system that ensures valuable information is retained and senior leaders are aware of employees' thoughts and concerns.

The Stage Media Company provides news and services for the UK entertainment and performing arts industry. Established in 1880 it is a private company, still owned by the family of one of the two founders. It publishes The Stage magazine, the world’s oldest theatre publication and The Bookseller, a stalwart of the UK book trade since 1858, which was acquired in 2020.

Nicky Jooste is the HR Manager at The Stage Media Company and has been with the organisation for 10 years. She is the lone HR resource, responsible for all aspects of HR within the company. A business need to improve their performance management process was identified.

Hugh Comerford is the Managing Director of The Stage Media Company. He champions the need for regular reviews in the organisation and avidly reads each and every one.

<h2 class="hide">Looking for a more flexible and online system</h2>

[fs-toc-omit] The challenge

The Stage Media Company was conducting performance paper-based reviews. While in some ways this was working well, with employees giving very honest and transparent feedback that Hugh and senior leaders found incredibly valuable, it had its limitations, as forms could go missing, locked away and never seen again and it was time consuming to collate the information. It was felt an online solution would be quicker and make the reviews far more accessible.

In the organisation employees work on a mixture of PC’s and Macs. Finding a solution that worked across both was tricky. While the answers were collated into an executive report, this took time and was very labour intensive to produce. 

It was clear that the organisation needed a more flexible, online system to make sure all the valuable information from the reviews could be quickly accessed and readily turned into action plans to help employees maximise their potential. 

<h2 class="hide">Quick employee adoption</h2>

[fs-toc-omit] The solution

As a small organisation, the HR budget was limited. As this was a new area to Nicky, she looked for recommendations from her network. The Stage Media Company outsource their IT support to Microbyte, who is an Appraisd client.

“Anna Fletcher from Microbyte really sold Appraisd to me,” says Nicky. “She was full of praise for the system and how easy it was to both implement and use. It turned out to be a great recommendation and Appraisd has proved to be everything that Anna promised.”

The Stage Media Company opted to introduce biannual reviews, one in April and one October. It really helped having a new process that was consistent across both of our publication titles, uniting them in a common approach. 

The roll out of the system went smoothly and it was quickly adopted by all employees, with almost 95% of reviews completed in the first round. Across the business, everyone has found it to be easy to use and there has been no negative feedback at all. Probationary reviews have now also been incorporated into the process.

“The customer care has been superb,” says Nicky. “Our account manager Ros has been fantastic; nothing is too much trouble. She has helped us to set up Appraisd exactly how we want it and is very proactive, regularly checking to see if we need any help.”

<h2 class="hide">Centralised solution that facilitates reporting and insights</h2>

[fs-toc-omit] The benefits

The biggest benefit for the company has been in streamlining the process so that everything related to reviews is held in one place, where it can be easily accessed. This has saved Nicky a lot of time, which is vital for her as the lone HR resource. 

This has also enabled better reporting and employee development. The organisation has a low turnover rate, with limited opportunities for promotion. However, it is really important to them that they help their employees develop in other ways, encouraging them to learn new skills and stay motivated. Through Appraisd, it is much easier to identify ways to support employees to grow and to keep challenging themselves.

The reviews are also used to gauge the temperature of the organisation, giving employees an important channel to air their views and express how they are feeling. “It is crucial for me that I know what our employees are thinking, and they are comfortable about being themselves,” says Hugh. “I want this to be a place where people feel they are listened to and that speaking up makes a difference. I read every single review and having these on Appraisd, makes it so much easier for me to do that and to follow up on any action points.”

The Stage Media Company has adopted hybrid working. As Appraisd can be accessed anytime and on any device, employees can stay connected to their objectives wherever they are, ensuring they stay aligned with the business and focused on their goals.

“Appraisd has made my life easier. I know there is more we can do with it, such as introducing wellbeing check-ins, but as a lone resource, I need to take things slowly. When we are ready, I know Ros and the team will be there to support me and the benefits we get as an organisation will only grow.”<div  class="author">Nicky Jooste, HR Manager at The Stage Media Company</div>
Employee performance