[Customer Story] How BMO engages employees on Yammer

Published Aug 29 2019 09:57 AM 27.9K Views
Occasional Contributor

Employee engagement is a hot topic in many organizations these days – and with good reason! Senior leaders know that an engaged workforce plays an important role in a company’s success. Engaged employees tend to be more productive, work harder, and have greater job satisfaction which translates into higher overall company performance.


Yammer helps companies engage employees by connecting them to a larger purpose, fostering a sense of belonging and empowering them to have a voice in creating company culture. Yammer provides a platform to share ideas, concerns, questions, successes, and goals while enabling greater access to leaders and peers across the company. 


At BMO, we are using Yammer in a variety of ways to engage employees including YamJams, social groups (yep, we allow them) polling, and fun activities to motivate employee participation.


Here’s how we’re using each of these levers to inspire our employees to contribute:   




We use YamJams for real time discussion on Yammer with leadership for a set period of time on a focused topic. It allows employees to easily connect with leaders in the organization to ask questions and for leaders to learn what’s top of mind for employees. At BMO, the topics for discussion have ranged from “ask me anything” to “improving our workplace”. We’ve also had a senior leader use Yammer for an hour immediately after a townhall to answer any questions or followups that employees didn’t get a chance to ask or weren’t comfortable asking in the townhall. 

If you’re thinking of hosting a YamJam in your organization, I would suggest that you leverage the Microsoft resources available rather than starting from scratch. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a moderator during the event to help the senior leader(s) keep track of unanswered questions since it can be easy to miss questions if the YamJam gets busy and also to help attendees who may need help properly submitting questions or replying to the YamJam thread. The moderator can keep things on track and help coach attendees and leaders on posting and replying.  


Check out this episode of Conversations with Community Managers, where I talk about more best practices for YamJams.


Social Groups


It’s no secret that social groups - groups that don’t relate specifically to work - can be controversial in many companies.  Do you allow social groups or will they be a distraction to employees from real work?  We chose to allow them and we realized three things.


First, social groups have value because they improve the quality of work relationships and build a stronger, more engaged company culture.  Second, they are a great way to get employees started with Yammer since they are less intimidating than publicly posting about work.  And third, humans are social creatures – with or without Yammer employees will find ways to socialize. Whether it be through email, instant message, surfing the internet or chatting at the “watercooler”. 




We use polls in Yammer to quickly get a pulse on the organization and make any necessary course corrections – without having to wait for the annual company survey! Conducting pulse checks lets employees know that their perspective is valued and heard by senior leaders.  Polls are easy to set up and can be used anytime you need employee input and, by participating in them, employees feel more involved in the decisions that matter to them.


Create a challenge   


For my team’s Yammer group, I wanted the team to have a say in the image we used along with our group name. So, I put a challenge out to them to post pictures they felt would be the best representation of our team. We voted for the one we liked best using the poll feature. Not only did it get the team involved, but it also got them using the different features of Yammer such as, posting, liking, replying and polling. 

Use a Hashtag


Hashtags can help track campaigns. One group at BMO uses #helpwanted when they needed some extra hands on an activity within a post. It gave employees an opportunity to cross train on a task of short duration enabling them to expand their network and gain some experience, and connected them with people from across the company.


Share pictures from events


And lastly, we use Yammer to keep employees involved with our company values. At BMO, we do this by sharing pictures taken from activities such as Employee Giving (a program where employees volunteer to assist United Way) and Pride Day (LGBTQ celebration day) and by sharing successes with a great hashtag like #strongertogether that help us feel united. 


The possibilities of how Yammer can help transform an organization are endless. These are just a few examples of how we use Yammer to engage our employees, but I’d love to hear what you do.


And recently I was interviewed by The Community Roundtable for their podcast, Conversations with Community Managers. In this episode I talk in more detail about the YamJams we host and some more best practices. Listen here.




Hi everyone, my name is Tanya and I have an awesome role working in the Employee Technology Experience and Communications team at Bank of Montreal (BMO), where I actively lead the adoption of our Office 365 collaboration tools. I've played a key role in the implementation of Yammer, SharePoint, OneDrive and Exchange Online in or organization. I've had the pleasure of connecting with our employees and sharing the value of these modern workplace tools as a featured speaker at a number of our internal employee digital transformation events and as a host of TechTalk a monthly BMO tech podcast series. I'm passionate about making technology fun and easy to use, so employees can make the most of the tools available to them. I'm thrilled to be a part of this Yammer blog community. 


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