Yammer in a Time of Crisis: Supporting Employees During Hurricane Irma

Social Media is the New News

More and more, we turn to social media for our information, answers, and advice. A majority of U.S. adults look to social media for news, according to a Pew Research Center survey. When a disaster strikes, and in times of emergency, we’re jumping on social channels to find information in the fastest ways possible. When more traditional news channels aren’t fast or local enough, social media becomes our go-to hub for real time, community-sourced information.

Organizations are now harnessing this instinct and advantage internally. As companies implement enterprise social networks, they have a community-driven, social tool on hand that can be used during times of crisis to support employees, facilitate connections, and disseminate information.

Internal Social Communities Support Employees in Times of Need

Recently, Talk Social to Me had the opportunity to help Johnson & Johnson stand up a Yammer group to support employees in just such a situation. During September’s Hurricane Irma, a J&J employee shared her desire to help evacuated employees find housing with other employees out of harm’s way. Within hours, a cross-functional team from IT, Human Resources, Workforce Communications, Global Services and others mobilized to make this happen – and the Employee Home Share program was born.

Employee Home Share map image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson.

Employee Home Share map image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson.

The Employee Home Share program involved quick-thinking IT leaders building a proprietary cloud-based database and map of available homes and a corresponding Yammer group to foster real-time conversation and support for affected employees and those offering their home. It also harnessed activation of a global employee assistance team, and announcements from senior leadership about the program. A full ecosystem of people, processes and technology tools was linked together in order to make the program a success.

As one component of J&J’s broad response to Irma for employees, Yammer’s easy-to-use interface and no-fuss group setup made it easy to create a social hub where employees could come together to find resources, ask questions, and support one another. The group’s focus was to provide specific emergency resources and phone numbers, and also to allow them to sign up to offer shelter to those who had suddenly found themselves without one in the aftermath of the hurricane. The Yammer group became a powerful place to pull people together and offer support while also exemplifying corporate values. Coupled with real-time community management and clear instructions for employees, the Employee Home Share group on Yammer was a successful social-media-driven approach to building community in a crisis situation.

Powerful Reasons to Use Your Online Employee Community to Support Employees in a Disaster Relief Situation:

  • Your community can serve as a gathering place for all employees to come together to build community, despite differing locations and circumstances
  • Important information and documents can be posted for convenience and easy reference. A group can be used as the defacto “home” for official information regarding the event, which lessens the confusion for users by consolidating where this information is placed
  • A group provides a one-stop-shop for all questions, and the group is searchable for others to find past threads
  • Employees on mobile devices and without access to the internet or electricity can still connect in one place
  • Announcements can be made to easily reach a broad audience
  • HR & Communications can monitor the conversation to know more about what is going on and identify additional needs by individual employees
  • Viral sharing of information to critical teams and individuals can bypass corporate bottlenecks, accelerating the speed at which helpful information travels
  • Individual employees can become part of the solution as they find an opportunity to help organically