By providing content that is relevant and speaks to our employees, we have been able to increase their engagement with company content as well as giving them direct access to the Senior Leadership in our company. These employee engagement figures will translate into happier customers, better solutions, and a more sustainable business.
Spinnaker Software is a South African software company with 8 different offices in 3 countries and many employees who work remotely. In the past, the geographical spread of employees created some barriers to employee engagement, especially around communication. Through employee engagement surveys it was identified that communication was our largest area in need of improvement. This was a challenge for a start-up that has exponentially grown but who still preferred verbal communication!
As a tech company we sought out solutions and eventually arm-twisted internal IT to enable Yammer in our tenant. We started posting company news broadcasts on Yammer, but the initial engagement only improved marginally as most employees did not make the effort to navigate to Yammer to read the company communications.
The Digital Literacy Project Team (left to right) – Michelle Lategan (Learning and Development), Helen Behm (HR Manager), Tracy van der Schyff (Microsoft MVP) and Christine Thomas (ICT Business Analyst / Project Manager)
Acknowledging the symbiosis between the Office 365 apps and services we soon realized that our utilization of Yammer had to form part of a bigger program to invest in our greatest assets, our employees. We commenced on a digital literacy campaign with Tracy van der Schyff. This initiative focused on upskilling our employees to make better use of the Office 365 suite of apps and services.
We launched our intranet our brand-new Intranet, called KeyStone, on the SharePoint Online platform and started migrating users from Skype for Business / File Shares to Microsoft Teams & OneDrive. We found that Teams improved departmental and/or project team communication, but company-wide communication did not have the same engagement levels, with the communication being pushed, one-way communication with limited uptake (Emails).
In a regular client catch-up with Tracy, we discussed our virtual Easter Egg Hunt. The hunt was a series of clues that led employees through the content on KeyStone. This was an initiative to increase the engagement with our KeyStone Intranet and for employees to become familiar with the navigation. Tracy showcased how you can highlight specific Yammer content (topics) in SharePoint using the # as filters.
This sparked the initiative to make Yammer much more than just a digital company newsletter but as an essential tool in our employee engagement strategy. A series of campaigns or challenges were created for employees to post content on Yammer using a specific hashtag. The content was not all work-related and focused more on employee wellbeing and included the following:
#mykitchenrules (employees posted quick and easy recipes to make during the work week)
#tedtalks (what employees are watching to learn something new)
#lessonslearnt (things that went wrong, but we learnt from)
#whatamIwatching (what series or movies employees are watching – yes Tiger King was there!)
#tipsforparents (helpful hints to working parents who need to juggle multi-roles)
#wfhwithconfidence (how to work remotely with confidence – tips and tricks)
#keepingfit (what employees do to keep fit)
#SQLChallenge (employees post a Microsoft SQL challenge to try and stump our experts)
The result – MUCH HIGHER engagement levels with all content on Yammer, including the company content. This can be seen in our stats from Yammer that has seen a 281% increase in the number of posts, 204% increase in the number that have been read and 310% increase in engagement. The most important figures for me, as Human Resources Lead, was the results of our recent Employee Wellness / Engagement Survey (using Microsoft Forms) – Yammer and the posts on this was the highest scoring reason for employee engagement!!!
This matters to the Leadership of the company from the Board to Exco and to Team Leads as we know that employees who are engaged and are participating in company communication are more engaged. Engaged employees bring with them discretionary effort which translates to better solutions, happier customers, and a more sustainable business.
One recommendation from the employee wellness / engagement survey was to facilitate more two-way communication with senior leadership. Yammer offered us the perfect solution, with Live Events.
Recently, our CEO, Pierre de Villiers, presented our first Live Event. In the event our CEO presented our company strategy and employees were able to post questions, which were answered in the live session. After the event, we posted the recording in Yammer and employees were able to continue the conversation by posting comments or further questions.
This type of two-way communication in the past has always been expensive (flying to each region) and not as engaging. Judging on the number of questions, employees find this platform a lot more engaging! What was meant to be a half hour update turned into 2 hours of Q&A.
New Way of Working:
We plan on making Live Events the way in which all company updates are provided. Pierre enjoyed the session so much, he asked that we set-up a monthly company Q&A session after our monthly Executive Committee Meeting is held. After each monthly Exco the employees receive a Microsoft Sway updating them on the progress of key strategic projects and any changes. Our engagement with these ranges from 68% to 93%. We are sure to improve and sustain this with the support from Pierre to continue with the Q&A sessions. It is not every CEO who grants as much access to his time, and we are extremely grateful for this, I am certain it will translate into improved strategic alignment in the short term and reaching and exceeding our long term strategic goals.
The technology has truly helped us bridge the gap between our employees & management, as well as bringing employees closer to each other through compassion and empathy.
The launch of the all New Yammer on the 11th of May could not have been timed better, what a great time for a refresh and to build even more excitement!
Helen Behm is the HR Manager at Spinnaker Software in Cape Town, South Africa. She is the Project Lead on their digital literacy project because digital literacy is about humans first and technology second. Helen specializes in talent management, employee engagement and internal communication making use of Office 365 from Yammer to Teams to Sharepoint.