Our journey to improving communications internally

With the introduction of MS Teams, we started to move away from using Yammer for improving communications. Fast forward a couple of years and now Teams is flooded with channels and notifications. It was becoming difficult to differentiate between work content and social content. We decided it was time to review our communications strategy and make some changes.

I guess the first thing that gets questioned when looking at multiple tools for communication is why and what do you use when. It is not so much about what to use when its more about the audience and who you want to communicate with. Microsoft Teams for me is about improving communications in a closed group with a specific focus e.g. A project, Yammer is about open communication and bringing colleagues together through common interests and on a more social basis.

We originally used Yammer many years ago with varying levels of engagement, it was more organic and did not have any specific push from stakeholders or adoption activities. When Teams came along people got excited and moved all communication into channels in there. We had a single team for the whole organisation with many channels for different subjects, this worked for a while but then people started expressing the overload of notifications.

Obviously, this will be different depending on the size of organisations as to which tools you use. For organisations less than 50 employees I think Teams could be used as a single communication tool but anything larger than that you need to think about splitting out the communication channels based on the needs. These tools should support the communications strategy in the organisation rather than the communication strategy coming after the tools have been implemented.

When we decided on the tools we wanted to use and how we intended them to be used we set out on building a plan for a relaunch. The first thing we did was to gather volunteers across the organisation who were to become champions for this change. We built a community area for us to collaborate and work together to make the change successful. As we had Yammer previously there was an exercise to review communities and remove the ones that are no longer relevant.

We started looking at some communities that could be created for the launch and these were around common interests and values in the organisation for example biking group, wellbeing, and good news stories. Once these were created, we planned the launch date and worked towards that with communications and training materials.

When we reached the launch date, we closed the team’s channels and communicated that all future conversations were to carry on in Yammer. We attended team meetings, created a podcast, and shared hints and tips to encourage engagement. We share community spotlights to raise awareness of the communities in Yammer for people to join. We are now at around 75% active engagement which is only 6% less than Teams.

We also ran a virtual event for the whole organisation and used Yammer to post updates, news and photos etc to bring the social element to the event. This worked well and we had 91 employees engaged on that channel out of 107 employees (some were on leave and not attending the event). This was great for sharing post event information too and it can be used to refer to.

One of the highlights for me is the community built for improving communications through sharing good news across the organisation, usually these would be shared within departments but not wider. It has been great to see those stories from all departments and is great for the Marketing team to get sight of these in a single place. Our overall aim for introducing Yammer was to bring colleagues together from different locations and build a social area with the current ways of working. Yammer may be worth looking at for your organisation to build the social side that would usually be in the office as we do not know how long it will be till everyone is allowed in an office again. 

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