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Cricket Australia’s data-driven power play delivers a better employee experience

Cricket is widely regarded as Australia’s national summer sport, and the Boxing Day Test is one of the biggest matches on the cricketing calendar. However, for those working behind the scenes to bring the game to life locally and overseas, cricket runs all year round.

And, in order to deliver a great experience for players and fans, employees at Cricket Australia need to be passionate about what they do, according to Senior Client Services Manager Emma Cashen.

“Our employee experience is really important to us across the nation,” she says. “We put our employees first to deliver the best outcomes.”

Like all professional sports, COVID-19 had a big impact on cricket. Similar to many organisations around the world, the global pandemic changed the way Cricket Australia worked, intensifying their reliance on technology to remain productive and connected.

While conducting quarterly employee engagement surveys during the pandemic, Cricket Australia found that working virtually took its toll on employees.

“Working from home removed the need to commute to the office, blurring the lines between their home life and their work life,” Cashen explains.

“The surveys indicated that the workforce had their busy periods at different times of the year, depending on their role and if cricket was being played.

To better understand which groups were being impacted, we use data from our engagement surveys to develop an action plan to assist employees in shaping their optimal life-work/styles.

A new partnership at the crease

Cricket Australia teamed up with Microsoft partner Engage Squared in September 2021 to deploy Viva Insights, a module of the employee experience platform Microsoft Viva. Powered by Microsoft Office 365 and experienced through Microsoft Teams – which Cricket Australia was already using – Viva Insights enables the organisation to see groups of unidentified people who were working longer hours.

“For example, our data shows that our senior leaders were working longer hours which could potentially lead to burn out.” Cashen says.

“This data made it clear to our senior leaders that they need to take better care of themselves and lead by example for their people. By taking leave or logging off, it sets the right standard for their people to follow.

Cricket Australia is also looking to educate employees on how to view their insights at individual and team levels, and then act on the data-driven recommendations from Viva Insights.

“We encouraged our employees to reshape their life-work/style which means they don’t necessarily work in an eight hour block. This flexible approach has resulted in employees being inadvertently available for longer hours.

“This means sometimes people may not be working within healthy boundaries, so we want to help them reset those boundaries at an individual level,” Cashen says.

The Viva Insights reminder gives employees a chance to take a moment and engage in mindfulness to help them maintain their wellbeing and productivity. I highly recommend the Virtual Commute feature, because it’s so easy for our commute time to be absorbed into the rest of your day. Virtual Commute helps us to mindfully disconnect.

Recognising team contributions

Cashen says the Praise feature is also popular among Cricket Australia employees. They use it to recognise the contributions of co-workers, either in a private chat or a Teams channel conversation.

Looking forward, the organisation wants to integrate its engagement survey results, which are currently run through Culture Amp, into Viva Insights.

“We can really start to see the correlation between how people are behaving on a regular basis and the end result of our engagement surveys. This will help to identify if there’s a relationship between the two, which will inform our action plans,” Cashen says.

Cricket Australia will also deploy Viva Insights to the State and Territory Cricket Associations and integrate their data and insights, giving “an Australian cricket-wide view”.

“I can see some of the State Associations jumping on board really quickly,” Cashen says. “They also rely on data to improve their employees’ experience and engagement, which feeds into their strategy planning.”

Adding more Viva modules to the line-up

Cricket Australia plans to deploy other modules as part of the Viva suite, such as Viva Connections and Viva Learning, to further enhance the employee experience.

“Viva Learning would be an easy one to roll out next. We have LinkedIn Learning, which we can embed in Viva Learning,” Cashen says.

“But I think Viva Connections is going to be the biggest game changer for us. We have an intranet and an enterprise social media platform in place; however they are standalone.

Cashen says that Cricket Australia is also keen to explore how it can leverage the Viva suite and Teams to bring everything together in a central location.

“We’ve got a high adoption rate for Teams, so it makes sense to bring everything into that platform and really centralise all other experiences,” she says.