Employee Social Networks

How to Choose a Workplace by Facebook Partner

Navigating the waters of Workplace by Facebook isn’t always a smooth ride. Choose a partner guide who will act as your co-captain, versus just a life jacket partner who is just along for the trip.

“Workplace by Facebook is so easy to use because it’s very similar to Facebook. We only need to invest in services to help us prepare and then launch because after that, Workplace will pretty much run itself. We don’t need to choose a Workplace by Facebook partner.”

We see and hear this all the time. Many companies truly believe that after launch, Workplace by Facebook will “run itself.” Its ease-of-use, mobile-first design and familiarity can indeed be deceptive! According to Aon Hewitt, just 63% of employees are engaged. Workplace by Facebook’s user-centered design is taken from Facebook’s consumer product, making it a compelling communications option. But what’s not obvious is that the benefits of Workplace are a force that cuts both ways, especially when it comes enterprise expectations. What often happens is a perfect storm of employees navigating an ecosystem of tools, with unclear guidance about when to use one tool vs. another, increasing workloads, and employee overwhelm when they log in and experience “rivers” of Workplace by Facebook news and information. Your Workplace by Facebook partner should have experience quickly and thoughtfully implementing a customized plan for one or more other organizations like yours.

Here are some tips in how to choose your Workplace by Facebook partner:

It’s a Thin Line Between Engagement and Friction

Because of its similarity to Facebook, adoption isn’t where the friction begins with Workplace. It comes when a company tries balance sustainable engagement with thoughtful design and governance. Workplace by Facebook group creation is designed to make employees feel like they have agency to build their own spaces. However, community management and oversight are required to make sure this doesn’t result in others in the network getting overwhelming and employees eventually logging off in frustration. Research by Deloitte Digital found that employees working in organizations which provided them with effective collaboration tools were 22% more likely to believe their company cared about their morale. Proper network design, governance and education programs need to be crafted to prevent that “network-gone-wild” experience. Ask your prospective partner how they have helped their clients make Workplace by Facebook deliver an experience that is the right amount of information, at the right time, and in the right place.

Replacing Existing Solutions

Ask your prospective partner about their experiences launching Workplace by Facebook in companies where there was a previous solution. In 2018, 51% of employers are planning to increase spending on innovative technologies to improve the talent experience in the workplace, according to a Talent Trends survey. To add to that, research from Adobe found that 81% of employees valued state of the art technology versus on-site amenities like office design and food. Often there are stories hidden in why previous technology solutions weren’t successful (hint: a lack of investment in ongoing community and change management programs is common). Does your prospective Workplace by Facebook partner incorporate end-user discovery in their services to identify and carry forward the learnings from those experiences and the effects on your workforce? Launch strategy and planning are not one-size-fits-all. Deeper investigation that leverages the nuances of your company history and culture are important to use to inform the approach.

The Executive Connection

For companies not replacing an existing employee communications solution, Workplace by Facebook ushers in a brave new world of employee feedback. While this may not be new for your company, Workplace by Facebook’s informal and conversational format can evoke dimensions not seen before. Are your company leaders prepared? Do your leaders know when to set behavioral examples with their actions vs. talking about doing it? Do they know that leading behavioral change often also includes working behind the scenes to encourage others rather than always taking the spokesperson role themselves? We’ve see the gamut—from executives who don’t participate, to those who do so reluctantly or by leaning too heavily on communication support staff—to the over-active executives who dominate the conversation of Workplace by Facebook. Have your prospective partner show you their executive coaching resume.

Training at Multiple Levels

Training appropriate to a user’s level of Workplace by Facebook responsibility is critical. Does your prospective partner offer training at levels appropriate to handle the various roles of daily user, a Group Leader and/or Champion, a CMO, or a site Administrator? What about frontline workers and their managers? One Talk Social to Me client found that business units who had been through our training were 42% more likely to be engaged after 6 months than business units who had not been coached. Much of the glue of Workplace by Facebook success comes from learning the effects of various combinations of technical configurations, but also in layering on the people and cultural factors that your organization naturally exerts on how people behave on the platform. Your chosen partner needs expertise in both.

Finding Business Value in Transformation

When you unleash two-way communication, extracting business value and capturing ideas can be hard. Your chosen Workplace by Facebook partner should have experience connecting value back to the business. Research from the 2018 State of Community Management shows that while 57% of organizations have a strategy roadmap, 70% do not specify a business problem the strategy will address. Choosing a partner that will dive into your business and help advise your community manager to connect Workplace by Facebook with value back to the business is critical. Hint: It’s not always something that can be quantified in dollars and cents. Digital transformation creates ripple effects in how employees feel, which can affect anything and everything from individual job performance all the way to customer experience. Workplace by Facebook is also versatile enough to address many different use cases, depending on the functional area of the business. Ask your prospective partner about their experiences coaching internal champions to drive engagement among people in sales vs. marketing vs. product development. How do those strategies differ from each other?

Navigate Waters with more than a Partner Life Jacket – Find a Co-Captain

At the core of every technology initiative is planning for the people factors. Workplace by Facebook offers a huge usability advantage—that’s apparent from its 30,000+ (and growing) ­­­­­customer base. The massive familiarity carryover from its consumer product can easily change hearts and minds inside the enterprise. But if you’re rolling out Workplace by Facebook, it’s important to remember those same users also expect a lot of control and convenience. Choosing the right guides for your journey down the river should always include a range of services customized to your company’s unique circumstances. Ask the hard questions, and dive in deep. The partners who will help keep you more than just afloat will readily share.

Photo by Rune Haugseng.

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