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How Service Express is Leveraging Meaningful Relationships
to Navigate Continuous Change

Gretchen Murphy

Gretchen Murphy

Chief Human Resources Officer, Service Express

Amber Anderson

Amber Anderson

Director of Learning & Development



Background
Service Express is a rapidly growing data service company that has supported their people-first culture through three acquisitions, an international expansion, and exponential people growth—all in the past two years. Their company culture emphasizes the importance of a caring workplace, believing that a people-first culture is necessary for sustainable, positive results. They underwent an exceptional period of growth starting in January of 2020, and emerged from a time of uncertainty in the world and the workplace as a world-class data center solution and one of Glassdoor’s “2022 50 Best Places to Work.”

Gretchen Murphy, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Amber Anderson, Director of Learning and Development, developed their leadership strategies based on research that identified meaningful relationships as the key to change management. They launched peer coaching to harness the power of meaningful relationships and support their employees through a period of rapid change both within their company and the world. 

Service Express leveraged peer coaching to create a lasting infrastructure empowering employees to form relationships and providing them with the necessary support to effectively manage stress and change. These newly formed relationships increased communication, created meaningful peer connection, and busted silos.

“Low energy and burnout decrease capacity to learn, to adapt and experience empathy, which is at the core of any kind of change management. For example, if you're acquiring another company and there's no empathy between those two groups of people, that culture will be rejected. Without addressing loneliness you fundamentally can't address change management. — Aaron Hurst, Co-Founder, Imperative

Challenge: Build Scalable Infrastructure to Leverage Relationships for Effective Change Management

As believers in a people-first culture, Gretchen and Amber sought a solution that would build human connections to support the change management process and prevent the creation of negative cycles caused by stress and burnout.

To combat the cascading effects of poor change management, Service Express leaned into the Imperative platform to provide their employees with support through meaningful social connections with three outcomes in mind:

1. Increased Communication

2. Breaking Silos

3. Meaningful Peer Connection

graph saying: The cascading effect of poor change management: employee fatigue, resignation, culture shift, productivity loss, customer dissatisfaction, negative business outcomes



“We wanted to help employees build their communication skills and build their internal networks, breaking down silos within the company.” — Amber Anderson, Director of L&D

Challenge: Build Scalable Infrastructure to Leverage Relationships for Effective Change Management

Service Express implemented peer coaching into their existing learning program, supporting employees who wanted to grow their leadership skills and build relationships across the company. 

Service Express leveraged the consistent, intentional time for conversations provided by Imperative’s peer coaching platform to build healthy relationships between employees that were positive, consistent, and vulnerable. 

To launch peer coaching on Imperative’s platform, employees began by filling out their purpose profile, which was scientifically designed to establish what drives a person at work. Then, they were paired off using Imperative’s data-driven algorithm. In each bi-weekly conversation over video, Imperative dynamically generated questions that were personalized to the purpose profiles of each person. The ongoing conversations were each focused on empowering employees to craft their jobs around their personal purpose, which in turn helps them to optimize their relationships, impact, and growth.

Employees commit to specific actions they wanted to take before the next conversation – moving from social to experiential learning. This intentional action and accountability can be directly connected to powerful behavior change and trackable growth. Then, each subsequent quarter, employees are matched with new peer coaches to continue the ongoing process of learning, self-reflection, and building new relationships across the organization.

“What I love about peer coaching is that you don't just feel more connected through these conversations to your peer coach, I think you feel more connected to the organization as a whole, and also, you feel more connected to yourself.” — Amber Anderson, Director of L&D

Results: Increased Communication, Silo Busting, and Meaningful Peer Connection

a graph: Increased Communication, Breaking Silon, Meaningful Peer Connection


Peer coaching provided a scalable structure for Service Express employees to develop relationships that supported them through stress and change. Consistent, intentional conversations produced effective change management in the form of: increased communication, breaking silos, and meaningful peer connection.

After the implementation of peer coaching, Service Express was able to track progress towards their change management goals: 

1. Increased Communication: 92% of employees found their conversations to be very helpful or breakthrough

2. Breaking Silos: 
Major business segments were communicating, busting silos between teams

3. Meaningful Peer Connection:
Employees built new relationships across the organization that would have been virtually impossible before


The measurable results provided by the Imperative platform allowed Service Express to understand the positive changes in behavior that were occurring for their employees.  

 “They've set their imperative and they come back two weeks later, and say ‘oh my gosh, this is what the outcome is, this is what the impact is’ – they've demonstrated success. You can talk through what went well and what didn't – personally there's so much satisfaction in the gift of even just that conversation.” — Gretchen Murphy, CHRO

Benefits: Sustainable Employee Networks, Providing Support during Times of Change

With peer coaching, Service Express created a sustainable model to manage change, empowering employees to lean into the social and emotional support of peer-to-peer relationships. The peer coaching infrastructure provides employees with lasting relationships to manage ongoing change. 

After having peer coaching conversations, employees reported feeling their state-of-minds shift from negative to positive. Employees had the chance to connect with peers who they otherwise would have never developed relationships with, growing their knowledge about the business, trust in their co-workers, and overall sentiment towards work.

graph saying: Meaningful Peer Coaching - in a word; before: overwhelmed, anxious, tired, busy, frustrated; after: encouraged, relaxed, energized, focused, empowered

“One of the examples of the success cases that somebody had shared was a sales leader, who was matched with finance leader. They’d both been at Service Express for years and they'd never had a reason to have a conversation before. They both agreed their business acumen grew tremendously over those five conversations and now they have each other to call. Now our finance leader better understands why sales leaders make the decisions they make, and vice versa. It's important for business results, quite frankly, and it's not just that feeling of connection – people work better when they better understand the business and the people that are in the business.”
—Amber Anderson, Director of L&D

The ROI of Peer Coaching
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