My organization utilizes Yammer and everyone in the company is able to access it, but the sales department has embraced the tool in a way others have not. I believe, for them, Yammer acts as the computer-mediated communication platform creating a community for that group. While others within the organization have more face-to-face interactions with team members, they do not, and I am sure they long for the sense of community a computer-mediated platform like Yammer can provide employees to grow and interact to become more productive and engaged.
“A recent SWOOP Analytics report about Yammer usage (registration required) found an estimated 69 percent of employees read messages on Yammer, but only 38 percent contribute”.
CMC allows the remote sales professionals working from their homes to create an identity and interact with each other. They post pictures of accomplishments they are proud of and they receive feedback when others comment or like the post. This form of social media is very relevant and works very well for this group.
The Diffusion Model states there are Innovators, Early Adapters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards as segments of users. I used to believe that our sales department were Early Adapters and the rest of the organization would eventually catch up. I now think differently. I think CMC is working for this segment and department because of who they are. First and foremost these are sales people, they are personable and like interactions generally. Secondly, CMC works because sales people are generally working by themselves and don’t have as much face-to-face community time with their coworkers.
Sales employees are staying better connected and can develop a community through Yammer usage which creates engagement for the company. Engaged employees put forth more discretionary effort and it is a win-win for the company and the employees.
In my extensive work experience, I have watched Yammer work for a couple of small groups of employees. Yammer communication, CMC, creates engagement in our remote sales employees. I do not see negativity or controversial issue discussions happening in Yammer interactions. There is significant opportunity for negativity in external social media platforms. There is more behavior of this nature because of the perceived separate identities in an external social media platform versus a work sponsored platform like Yammer. For example, if I think I do not know anyone and there will be no repercussions for my comments, I may feel more open to state my political opinions. In a work environment, with set and known identities, there is no chance of feeling like one could get away with something making a controversial statement or post.
Chris Bortlik notes in his blog (Link here) about why Yammer works for him because it allows them to talk through questions in a public forum.
“Moving our questions out of email and into Yammer has made these questions (and their answers) more discoverable by others across the organization and has built a searchable knowledge base that benefits people as they join our team. This has also cut down on the amount of email I receive”
This form and usage of social media has application in more and more work teams that operate remotely. Yammer currently works with our remote sales team because they need the community and interaction that it creates. Our sales team is unique, for the most part, because they are the largest population of employees that works remotely every day. This has immense opportunity for the future workforce because more and more of them will be working remotely. Capabilities of remote work are increasing and the benefits are well noted. Forbes provides a nice article on benefits of working remotely. Check it out here.
As we move into an era of more remote work teams, consider how using Yammer might help connect your groups. Leadership engagement can help encourage and reinforce building a community for a more engaged workforce.
Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Social Media Communication Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics, Second Edition. New York: Routledge.