[Customer Story] How the NRMA breathed new life into its Yammer network with $0

May 30, 2019


Ever feel like your Yammer network isn’t making the difference you know it could? Are you looking for ways to combat colleagues’ pre/misconceptions about Yammer? Do you want to help leaders connect with and unlock the power in their frontline teams? If any of those questions resonate with you, read on because I’m here to share how we’ve breathed new life into our Yammer network by focusing on Employee Experience and getting experimental with Yammer.


The challenge

The challenge put to our team (Strategic Communication & Digital Employee Experience) was a complex one: How might we help nurture a culture of trust and frontline empowerment, where our people always put the customer first?


Following a whole bunch of discovery research, interviews and workshops we knew that we needed to help our people solve customer and colleague problems faster and share information more effectively. We needed to actively and intentionally empower our frontline as a priority, and increase opportunities for connection between leaders and frontline employees. And we knew we had a budget of $0 to achieve all this…


Getting experimental

Increased connection, easier sharing of information, faster problem solving, empowering the frontline – these needs read like a shopping list of why you would use an Enterprise Social Network. We therefore put forward the hypothesis that if we could leverage our existing ESN, Yammer, more intentionally, we would see improvement on all fronts.


Seems logical right? But it was actually a high-risk proposal. After 8(ish) years of relatively low value use within the organization, the majority of our people had a negative view of Yammer. Rather than try and tackle that negative perception head on, we focused on making it ‘safe’ and, dare I say it – ‘cool’ – for people to get on board with giving yammer a fresh go.


To do this, we got experimental. We created a test case in our Group Customer Division, openly laid out our hypothesis and asked people to help us test and learn. Most importantly, we set out with open minds, ready to learn from our people and their experiences. We weren’t trying to ‘push’ anything, we were genuinely looking to learn from what we observed.


What we did

The first thing we did was work out how we would measure our experiment. This is where we realised the importance of putting employee experience (EX) at the heart of our efforts. We created an EX survey built around the Swoop Analytics ESN Maturity Model (which in turn heavily borrows from the work of Simon Terry) to capture how our people felt about the experience of connecting, sharing, problem solving and innovating.


Next up we created three new yammer groups, targeting three different types of community within the Division. For each group, we sourced a Community Leader and Community Admin. To help the leaders and admins get clear on how their groups could add value, we created a simple ‘Community Canvas’ tool (teaser alert: look out for a future blog post on this) to workshop what the purpose of each group was and how they would create engaging experiences for their community members.


Finally, we used Swoop Analytics during the experiment to measure real-time activity, demonstrate what good looks like, and guide people to better behaviors along the way. We ran the experiment for a period of three months in late 2018, starting with the first DEX survey and finishing with the second, giving us end-to-end experiment metrics and EX feedback from our people.


What we learned

Well, we were BLOWN AWAY. Most importantly the EX survey showed massive improvements in all areas, far bigger than we ever imagined could be achieved over just three months:


EX Improvements NRMA Experiment.png


In follow up conversations people from all levels reported:

  • feeling better about coming to work,
  • feeling like the culture had tangibly improved,
  • that they had more fun at work and
  • that they felt more connected to the organisation, as well as their colleagues.

We also saw a step change in leadership behavior as the Senior Leadership Team embraced the experiment and became much more active in the digital community. It’s sustained change too – check out this comparison of leader activity before the experiment and after:


Leader Interactions NRMA Experiment.png


Our frontline were the true champions though, driving a massive increase in activity across our entire Yammer network. Check out the chart below to see the story from an activity perspective. Pottering along with low level activity for 2017 and into early 2018, then we run the experiment mid-2018 and BLAM! A whole new level of activity is established:


Yammer Activity Chart NRMA Experiment.png



Why does more activity matter?

Because we see every interaction as an opportunity to build trust.


It’s that simple.


To build our desired culture of trust we need to interact. We need to connect and communicate. Yammer lets us do that at scale, unbound by geography or time.



My favorite moment in the whole experiment came when one of our Sales Managers coined the hashtag #yammerpower in response to Yammer solving a customer problem at previously unheard of speed. #yammerpower is now a thing. People organically started to tag stories to show how Yammer has helped them do something better, faster, more easily etc. What better evidence is there of the impact this experiment has had?


My advice to you

If you’ve read this far then I assume those questions I asked at the top of this post did indeed resonate with you.  As a reward for sticking with it, here are my 6 key learnings from our experiment.


Hopefully they’ll help you rejuvenate your Yammer network by focusing on EX:


  1. Make it safe to have a go: Use the constraints of a confined experiment to create the safe space to give something a go. Be vulnerable, admit you don’t have all the answers, and don’t be afraid to openly ask for help.
  2. Measure the employee experience: Ask people how they FEEL about the experience of getting work done, break it down into key components that link to your business needs
  3. Empower your leaders (without burdening them): Get them thinking and talking (a community canvas session is a good way to do this) about what their community needs in order to thrive, and let them find their own ways to provide those community nurturing experiences.
  4. Use data to nudge behaviors: Swoop Analytics is worth its weight in gold. SHOW people what engagement looks like and use data to educate, enable and recognize your champions.
  5. Connect the dots: Look for the links in your metrics, the patterns and themes that your data speaks to. Linking your different data sources to your complex business challenges, that’s where the value and the story really is.
  6. Share the love: Help your people tell their #yammerpower stories


What's next for Yammer at The NRMA

We've adapted the experimental approach into a rollout template and we're using the lessons learned from the Group Customer experiment to reignite Yammer across our other Divisions and Group businesses. The organisation is opening up, people are learning about how to work and share information more transparently and yammer is the channel that's making it all possible.



About the NRMA:

The NRMA is Australia's largest Member organisation, providing a range of services for our Members and the community, including roadside assistance, International Drivers Licences, car reviews, a diverse range of motoring, travel and lifestyle benefits, as well as products and services.


The NRMA has been around for almost 100 years, but we want at least another 100 years ahead of us. That’s why we’re on a transformation journey. Externally, we’re building a strong and sustainable future in transport and tourism. Internally, we’re building a culture of trust and frontline empowerment, putting the customer at the heart of all we do.


About the author:


Pete Johns Profile Pic.jpg


I'm Pete Johns, the Digital Employee Experience Manager at The NRMA. I'm an organisational culture and employee experience geek, fascinated by how teams can leverage digital thinking to work together more effectively and get great work done thanks to more purposeful collaboration. Above all else, even though digital is my jam, I'm here to help organisations put people, not technology, at the heart of everything they do.