As social restrictions slowly ease, our Business Change and Adoption Consultant Mark Lloyd considers the vital role technology has played in keeping colleagues connected and how Yammer can help continue that momentum.
During the pandemic, how to make employees feel connected was a primary concern for businesses of all sizes. As we slowly move out of the pandemic and into an era of hybrid working, this question has only become more, rather than less, important.
Some of us experienced a strengthening of community and connection over the last year, both inside of work and out. This might have been something as simple as going out for a walk and receiving a friendly wave, nod or smile. Small gestures like this may have never happened previously. Or maybe they did, but we’ve noticed and appreciated even the slightest nicety more in the last year due to social distancing or for some, complete isolation.
Seeking comfort on the bright side
With this major shift occurring in how we connect, it could be said that the pandemic has brought about a rebirth of society.
Human beings seem to have it written into our DNA to turn to humour in times of crisis. Despite the magnitude of what’s been going on around us in the last year, never before have our smartphones been more packed with jokes, GIFs and memes which have kept us engaged and uplifted through the most difficult of times.
Human connection through technology
People, often complete strangers, are finding ways to connect. Luckily, we have fast and easy access to technology enabling us to call, video chat and communicate in groups through channels such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Houseparty.
It can’t compare with hugging a friend or family member or meeting your grandparents for a Sunday dinner, but it serves. It serves to make us laugh, smile and forget for a fleeting moment.
The unique benefits of Yammer
So where does Yammer come into all this? I’ve seen numerous posts endorsing the value of Microsoft Teams in bringing remote workers together. Teams is a fantastic tool for collaboration. But the clue is in the name, it is built with already established teams and focused collaboration in mind. The real glue for your workforce can be an enterprise social network, of which Yammer is just one example.
Consider those people that waved at you while out for your walk. Connecting with colleagues in Yammer is the digital equivalent of a wave, a hello or a nod. It can provide reassurance that, although we may work separately, we’re not alone in the workplace. As an enterprise social network, Yammer can be a community builder.
Think of Microsoft Teams as your conference room. The room may have a name, it will be focused on a particular goal. You know pretty much everyone who enters the room and you’re all working towards that common goal.
If Teams is a conference room, think of Yammer as your company coffee shop. You can pop in and out, everyone is invited. The shop may run special themed days that pique your interest. If you by chance spark up a conversation with the person next to you in the queue, you may share stories, you may find a common interest.
Top three Yammer function for staying connected
Below are three great features of Yammer which can help users start conversations, meet colleagues outside of their teams and build rapport in the workplace.
1. Polls and surveys
Using Yammer’s discussions and questions functions is a great way to feel more immersed in company culture when you’re working from home. However, you can garner even more engagement by inviting people to comment through polls. Polls can be a conversation-starter and an ideal way to hear the opinions of people within your business that you haven’t yet connected with. Polls can be professional or more informal, ranging from “how long should a presentation last?” to “choose your working style – early bird or night owl?”
2. Photo Sharing
The ability to share photos is hardly anything new or standout, but the way in which you share them can be. Especially when it comes to keeping people in your business connected. On a one-on-one basis, you may have heard that a colleague has the same interests or hobbies as you. You might want to break the ice with a photo of your latest mountain biking adventure or an ill-fated attempt at an upside-down cake. On a group level, an individual or manager can open a request for photo-sharing which may have the wider benefit of bringing people together and highlighting similarities and shared struggles. We did this at Content+Cloud during Mental Health Week, inviting our people to share pictures of themselves getting out into nature during the pandemic.
Sometimes a colleague does something outstanding and helps you out in such a way that a simple ‘thanks’ doesn’t quite feel enough. On these occasions, Yammer can help. Selecting the praise icon under the chat box presents the following option.
From here, you can select a category, or praise badge, to highlight specific actions, achievements or feelings, such as ‘I owe you a coffee’, ‘ninja skills’, ‘you’re a star’ etc, alongside your written explanation of what they did to go above and beyond.
It’s worth noting that praise can also be given in Teams by selecting the medal icon underneath the chat box and choosing a type of praise badge to issue.
When considering how to make employees feel connected in a hybrid world of work, Yammer has a lot to offer beyond these initial suggestions. As with any tool, familiarity and practice are key to getting maximum ROI from the services and technologies your business invests in.
For more information on setting up a Yammer enterprise social network, contact us for an informal chat with one of our experts.