Using Yammer and Workplace to connect with employees

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POSTING and managing content on the official social-media accounts of a private company has been part of the daily duties of Jesselee Tintiangko, a young millennial who grew up using the Internet, mobile devices, and social media.

Accessing social media has become second nature to Jesse. When the company launched its corporate social networking account on Yammer, she quickly adapted and regularly visited it to get updated.

“Yammer allows me to communicate with my colleagues. These days, I have more time to read the stories and updates,” she said.

The use of enterprise social networks, such as Microsoft Yammer and Facebook Workplace, is growing in popularity; however, not everyone is like Jesse. Moving employees to access and participate in the digital platform actively poses a challenge to many internal communication professionals.

Yammer and Workplace are internal communication tools that connect and engage employees in an organization who log in using their company e-mail credentials. Those with Facebook accounts will not find it difficult to use Workplace or even Yammer because of the similarities in interface and functions.

Through these tools, companies can hold virtual town halls, post updates, conduct polls, upload videos, hold training, among others, during this pandemic with their employees working from home. Employees are encouraged to post messages, comments, and reactions.

Let us look at the experiences of three companies that have successfully launched their corporate social networks before the pandemic. We asked ABS-CBN internal communications manager Cet Lorenzo, Sun Life Philippines corporate communications manager Len Arboleda, and Aboitiz brand, creatives, and corporate communications manager Lorenne Anacta to share information on how they use Yammer and Workplace effectively.

How did you encourage employees to join your company’s social networking account?

Cet Lorenzo: We anchored Yammer’s rollout on the launch of our company-wide weight loss challenge called “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Sobra” and encouraged them to download the app so they can share their fitness journeys and get updates about the org-wide challenge. We followed it up with the Himig Handog songwriting contest for employees and introduced the “KapamilYAMMERcato” group, where employees engage in buy and sell. These activities spiked up adoption. We also streamlined our e-mail broadcasts and moved them to Yammer.

Len Arboleda:  We did an internal campaign sharing the benefits of having a Workplace account so that more would be encouraged to sign up. Later on, we also did live video promos where winners were announced solely on Workplace so employees would be prompted to tune in and explore the platform while at it.

Lorenne Anacta:  Our business units determined their content champions for AGORA (the internal brand for Aboitiz Group’s Facebook Workplace). These champions spearheaded the migration of all content posted from other internal communication platforms and the creation of official groups. Also, sign-ups were gamified and leaders themselves encouraged the team members to collaborate within AGORA.

How is Yammer/Workplace different from your existing internal communication tools?

Lorenzo:  Accessibility, metrics, and interface are the three things that make Yammer different from the rest of the internal comm tools. Yammer can be easily accessed via desktop or mobile and can be accessed anytime and anywhere. It provides metrics for user activity, view count, and device usage. Since it’s similar to Facebook, it’s user-friendly and allows two-way communication. Employees get to be content-creators and not just admins. Posting company announcements on Yammer notifies all members via e-mail, and you can see how many people have seen it.

Arboleda:  Workplace allows us to share various types of content, like videos, links, and photos. Uploading is also more convenient, and any employee can do it. There is an opportunity for better engagement since the employees could react and comment on posts. It gives us a chance to assess the content that attracts their attention based on feedback. Workplace also allows us to connect with colleagues from different countries. There are even groups for specific functions and interests, so there’s an opportunity to share ideas and best practices.

Anacta: Before AGORA, there was no established platform where all business units can collaborate and house relevant information needed by team members such as policies, services, communities, events, news, KPI dashboard, among others. AGORA revolutionized what it means for an organization to have a social intranet in this digital age.

How has the response been? What kind of engagement do you get?

Lorenzo: At first, employees were a bit hesitant in downloading the app. It’s always a challenge to introduce new technology. After knowing the benefits of being part of the Yammer community and learning that the top management members are also active Yammer users, employees came logging in.

Arboleda:  The initial response was slow but steady. Eventually, we did get the entire population to create their accounts. We get a healthy amount of engagement, mostly reactions to posts. I believe employees are still trying to figure out the kind of content they think would be appropriate for posting, given that it is a work-related platform.

Anacta: The majority of Aboitiz team members use Facebook, which utilizes the same features as AGORA. Thus, there is minimal need to introduce the platform and how it works. Add to this how the Aboitiz Group has updated its policies in 2016 to enable team members to access social media 24/7, even during work hours.

Based on your experience, what kinds of content work best?

Lorenzo:  Exclusive content, employee stories, and posts from the higher management are the ones that get high views.

Arboleda: Employees react whenever we post about the achievements of different departments or individuals. Posts about employee engagement activities also get a good reaction, whether it’s photos or even just a quick, unedited video clip of an event. Promos, of course, get good engagement. I remember when Sun Life gave its Asia employees a mental wellness day-off at the height of the lockdown and held a promo encouraging us to share photos of how we spent our day—the Philippine employees shared so many creative entries.

How do you deal with negative comments?

Anacta:  Since the tool is strictly internal, team members are aware that for all their posts, they should still follow the company guidelines and code of ethics. Thus, negative comments are few. In the few instances that these take place, the team leader or business unit champion should engage and address the said comment either on the post itself or via workplace chat.

What are the changes, if any, in employees’ use of the app during this pandemic when most people work from home?

Lorenzo:  Since the work-from-home setup was implemented, the use of Yammer increased tremendously. Yammer mobile access also grew by 300 percent.

Arboleda:  During the pandemic, Workplace has been mostly used for work chat since it’s the easiest way to connect with colleagues for a quick discussion or consultation.

Anacta: At the onset of Covid-19, AGORA was heavily used by HR and top management in communicating with team members on how to deal with the pandemic. From April to the present, since many team members work from home, AGORA was remolded into the group’s main tool for e-learning. Training and certification courses were conducted via AGORA on a very regular basis.

Can you provide three tips to internal comm professionals who want to be successful in using the app?

Lorenzo:  Get your leaders to believe and support it. Don’t stop promoting and find ways to engage your community. Collaborate and involve people from different groups in your organization.

Arboleda:  Highlight the activities they do outside of their roles. Tap champions in each department to model how to use the platform so others will get a better appreciation of it. Bring your executives closer to the community, especially for those who do not get much opportunity to interact with the bosses.

Anacta: Groom content champions and tech experts from the whole organization so that there will be no issues in producing content and addressing concerns. Explore various types of content and experiment with different media forms and popular trends like Tiktok music or challenges. Involve your team leaders because members have more engagement when they see their leaders using it often.

PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the world’s premiere association for senior communications professionals around the world. Kane Errol Choa is the vice president of Integrated Corporate Communications of ABS-CBN Corp.

PR Matters is devoting a special column each month to answer our readers’ questions about public relations. Please send your questions or comments to [email protected]

Image credits: Photo by master1305 | freepik.com



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