Aon is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions with 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries. We started our Yammer roll out in 2012, as part of a collaboration initiative embedded in the knowledge sharing agenda.
Over the past year, engagement in our Yammer communities has shot through the roof, increasing by 150%. It is a true testament of colleagues working together, reaching out across the organization and connecting in a true Aon united way. Active colleagues on Yammer went up from 17K to 47K. Today, about 57% of colleagues on Yammer are engaged (number of engaged members divided by the number of registered members). Engaged members are any user who has taken at least one action (like, shared, comment, etc.) for the report period.
Although remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic and the updates to Yammer definitely played a part in the adoption, we did a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to make Yammer more colleague friendly and to embed its usage into Aon’s culture. Over the last few years, we focused on campaigns to push adoption. We heard colleagues feedback about the number of communities we had, conversations that were of low value, lack of leader participation, among other things. So we took a pause and pivoted our approach.
Instead of pushing all colleagues to use Yammer, we said – use Yammer only if it helps you achieve a business objective. If you do not want to use it, that is ok too, it may not be for your objectives.
Here is how we implemented this approach through multiple steps:
Structured Community Audit Practice
In 2016, we had more than 5,000 Yammer groups (now called communities). Despite 800 groups that were engaged, we only had 15% community engagement. My analytics background provides me with an opportunity to work the numbers, strategize and provide simple solutions. We were struggling with pushing the “800” number up, so we thought, what if we brought the “5,000” number down?
We started looking at our analytics to see, which groups/communities were not being used, and/or were outdated, and then started to archive them. Making this a consistent practice has brought down our 5,000 communities, to approximately 1,100 and the adoption numbers show us a much truer picture. Now we run this as a quarterly activity and archive any community that has not been active in the last two years.
Relationship building with Yammer Community Managers
Over the last few years, there were a few community managers who stood out in our Yammer network, particularly around their contributions and tireless efforts to enable the community to thrive. When we looked at analytics, we realized many high-performing communities that were flying under the radar as quiet achievers. We also saw that on an average we had about 10 new communities surfacing every month. Forming partnerships not just with existing community managers, but the new ones too, took our adoption to another level.
New Communities - Onboarding
We allow anyone at Aon to create communities, but as a team, we assess the new communities created every month to evaluate if we need to merge any new community with an existing one (sometimes, colleagues do not realize that there is a similar community). We also reach out to new community managers to check if they need any help to get started, show them a few tricks, and also add them to our Community Manager Yammer community, where we share updates, training, tips, and best practices.
Existing communities - Keeping the momentum
It is more challenging to keep track of existing communities in terms of maintenance. With more than 800 active communities, it is difficult to keep in touch or train all community managers at an ongoing basis. Over the last couple of years, we met with existing communities’ managers to help them keep their communities engaged, keep the conversations fresh and relevant and showcase new Yammer features. One of the key initiatives is what we call “Rinse and Repeat campaigns.” These are Yammer posts based on a certain theme, where we update the information for a weekly/monthly post. Some of these include Tip Tuesdays / Top Tips (tips about tools, platforms, etc.), Praise a Colleague and Monthly Mondays (posts on colleague development through training sessions).
The Yammer Top Tip Campaign has been running for the last nine months, where we post Yammer tips every Tuesday. These posts are contributed by many of our Yammer community managers across regions and solution lines. We curate these tips from different communities across Yammer where community managers are working hard to foster collaboration.
Praise a colleague campaigns
The Praise feature is very popular at Aon. We use it to congratulate colleagues who have completed training programs, welcome colleagues who are new to Aon and recognize colleagues for their efforts and hard work, among other examples. We often see a praise post receive a high number of likes.
Monthly Monday campaigns
We partnered with our Learning team, and worked with two global learning experience leaders at Aon for one of these campaigns. Steve Strong and Charlotte Donaldson shared their feedback with us: "We utilized Yammer to advertise and promote internal learning workshops. Yammer allowed us to instantly connect with our colleagues around the globe. We saw an immediate impact, with a three-fold increase in the number of registrations to the workshops one to three days after the post went live." Their team has been offering technology training programs to colleagues and receiving approximately 50 registrations a month. We started using Yammer to advertise these courses and monthly sessions through a monthly All Company announcement in Yammer. Prior to Yammer posts, this team primarily relied on our intranet or newsletters to communicate with colleagues about these opportunities.
We have always had a few leaders who were historically very active on Yammer, but with the adoption that we have today, more leaders are engaging with colleagues on the platform. For instance, last year, we created a community to share the voice of Kip Kelley, CEO, Aon Affinity, U.S., with colleagues across the business. This community is his way of hosting an ongoing conversation with colleagues where he would post weekly about observations from across our business that highlight the power of creating, building and sustaining connections. And now, ninety percent of our senior leaders are on Yammer, even if they are not active. With colleague engagement higher than ever before, we are focusing on leadership engagement this year.
Kip shared his Yammer experience with us: “My entry into the ’blogosphere’ was prompted by COVID-19. Like so many others, I went from regularly being out and about with colleagues, clients and trading partners to a Webex-driven existence. I was concerned about becoming detached personally and even more so about our colleagues feeling isolated and disengaged. My communications partner, Deanna Goulazian, helped come up with the idea of trying to address these concerns, at least partially, with my Yammer blog, which we named ‘Reflections on Connections.’ I've been blogging on Yammer ever since and have seen the viewership climb steadily to an average of well over half our U.S. colleague base for my weekly posts. The fact that we have an incredible team that constantly provides great things to reflect upon makes this fun and a bit therapeutic too."
Because we have embedded Yammer in key corporate initiatives, it has become popular with Aon colleagues. Our engagement has increased tremendously over the last year, and colleague sentiment has also improved. The numbers show great adoption to date, and there are a number of initiatives we are working on to take our adoption to maturity. Some of the tactical things we have already implemented, or will in the future, are:
In conclusion, the approach we took to increase Yammer adoption for colleagues helped us achieve our goals. Instead of pushing it to everyone, we looked worked on quick wins that addressed colleague feedback and needs, which made much greater impact. Now that we have made progress, Yammer is a stronger communications and collaboration channel for our colleagues, and the results speak for themselves.
Gunja Rastogi is the Product Owner for Yammer at Aon. She also leads project management for Aon’s Knowledge Sharing tools. She has coached several Yammer champions to drive Yammer adoption at Aon and helped Aon to make Yammer as one of the key communication channels for colleagues. She graduated from University of Delhi, India with a degree in Finance and completed her MBA with a major in Finance and Marketing. She has worked in business research and analytics prior to joining Aon. She is passionate about empowering colleagues through using technology effectively. Gunja is also a certified Project Management Professional, Certified Scrum Master, and Certified Scrum Product Owner. You can follow her on LinkedIn.
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