With Employees

Your business probably already has a facebook page to talk with your customers.  But what if you could talk to your employees the same way?  Microsoft's Yammer may just be the solution.  Yammer calls itself "The Enterprise Social Network", and that's exactly what it is.  It's social media for work and you may be surprised to whom it connects you.

Yammer is a social network for employees.  It has a newsfeed, instant messaging, and groups that feel much like popular social networking sites.  Users are able to share ideas, upload documents, ask questions, and recognize those who are doing great things.  The software is simple, but the impact can be profound.  Yammer not only changes the way companies communicate, but the people they communicate with.  Yammer has a way of removing the stigma some titles bring, leaving behind only people and ideas--ideas that can increase profits, productivity, and creativity.  You just have to ask.  Let's take a look at three companies that use yammer and how it improved their communication.

Gourmet Hamburger chain, Red Robin, realized that the person with the greatest insight into its products was not the manager or their development team, but the waiters.  Customers tell their waiters things about their experience that they may not put on a survey.  Yammer then gave those same waiters a way to share that information with the rest of the company to make changes happen.  Employees are given challenges to help improve the company from creating ways to use ipads as aids in seating customers to the creation of a reusable kids cup to help bring down costs.  Red Robin believes if you take care of your team members then they will take care of your guests.

Insurance providers, Nationwide, found that Yammer enabled their employees to find answers to client questions faster than email.  When sending an email you won't get a reply back right away, especially if someone is on vacation or out of the office.  With Yammer, employees were able to post a question so that everyone could see and anyone with the answer could respond.  They also found that a newcomer to a project or team could get caught up on information more quickly when they were able to search yammer for documents on topics related to the project, rather than having plan and attend meetings with all of the involved parties.

One Kings Lane, a designer décor company started by two women in San Francisco, has expanded to also include offices in New York and Los Angeles.  One Kings Lane uses yammer to keep their three offices connected, without losing their personal touch.  Employees are able to communicate across the country without having to catch a plane.  New hires feel that the can "hit the ground running" with yammer because it gives them the opportunity to ask questions when they may not even know who to ask.

Take a look at the communication in your company.  How well do you know your employees?  There may be untapped potential right outside your office.  A hobbyist photographer, a college student working on a degree in marketing, an employee who has experienced a career change.  Do you know what all your employees have to offer?  More importantly, are you giving them the opportunity to make an offer?


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