The super power of communities at work

February 6, 2019
The original article is published on the Microsoft Tech Community Yammer Blog.

For over 10 years we have seen Yammer helping organizations everywhere connect and engage employees in lots of different ways, but the one consistent thing we’ve seen is the ability Yammer has to create connections that form communities. Communities that host C-suite-to-employee conversations or HR voice-of-the-employee channels to communities of interest that drive change through inclusion and diversity to communities of practice that improve knowledge management. The power and impact of communities in the workplace are undeniable. Understanding and harnessing communities can quickly lead to impact.

Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research and expert on the topic of employee engagement explained in an email interview in 2013 with the Harvard Business Review that “engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.” 

And the same remains true today. We hear it from our customers all the time. The communities within their organizations are changing the way they work, challenging the status quo and chiming in to improve business processes that save time and money.

The vision of Murali Sitaram, GM of Yammer and O365 Groups at Microsoft, is to empower and connect every person across an organization to maximize their impact. Yammer’s core focus is to inform and engage, breaking down silos through multi-way conversations and non-invasive productivity.

At Kimberly-Clark the impact of community was identified when a team of sales representatives, who were spread across a large geographical area, started sharing pictures on Yammer of in-store displays of stacked toilet paper. Soon after, they started asking each other questions. That resulted in the sales support team being tagged on more complex issues. They moved faster, crowdsourced solutions, and felt more connected as a team. Not only did this small community of salespeople in New Zealand grow in value for these front-line employees, it became an example and a catalyst for a shift in the way Kimberly-Clark wants their people to engage. <link to case study> <Link to Ignite session>

Ernst and Young is a great example of how a connection can positively impact employees. They are using communities of interest to connect people across their organization with Yammer groups dedicated to topics and movements such as Pride, a women’s leadership network, today’s family, working moms, and wellness groups. Members offer up tips, ask questions, and share work-life perspectives that build bonds that help each other feel connected to a bigger purpose. Even though some of these are not directly work-related, the value has come from the relationships that have been built that make this valuable in their company culture.

UNICEF has taken the impact of engagement to the next level. Paola Storchi stated that “Yammer has harnessed the power of the passion behind the people who work for the company.” Employees at UNICEF have used communities to show how deeply they care about the work they do. And what’s also amazing about this story is the technology is so light and easy to use it can engage employees wherever they are located, even in some of the most remote places in the world. By tapping into the local group members, UNICEF was able to triple the growth they saw in engagement in the network.

There is power in community.

It can impact the bottom line through more engaged employees. The social foundation we provide our employees can be a platform the spans the organization and breaks down communication silos. We can create an inclusive and productive environment centered around our people and the value they bring.

Download the Yammer superhero infographic to see where Yammer can impact your company.

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