Note: This post has been edited to consider the new design and features of Yammer in 2020.
You’ve been tasked by the C-Suite to “make Yammer work” at your organization. But what once was a thriving network now resembles a ghost town, and you need to increase Yammer’s engagement. With the launch of the new Yammer, what better time than now to re-ignite the passion that once fueled your Yammer community.
Many companies have had Yammer for three years, five years or even longer, and in a lot of cases, employees have a negative opinion. Community managers have to contend with this and engage in a battle to change the perception – so we recognize this is not a simple, easy fix. Acknowledging that this is harder than launching a brand new shiny tool is important, and we should also warn against ignoring Yammer because it fell flat. Introducing something new isn’t necessarily the solution.
Why did your Yammer network’s engagement drop? There could be many factors: the excitement of the new network has worn off and perhaps employees, all the way up to executives, are fatigued and just see Yammer as another tool. They might not know why they should continue contributing. Increasing Yammer engagement will take time, and won’t be something you can do alone, sitting mysteriously behind a computer. You will need to leverage others for Yammer to truly be successful, ensuring various workflows are integrated into the network.
First things first: Do you have hundreds or thousands of communities (formerly groups) in your network, with most of them inactive? I highly suggest you clean up your Yammer network. Think about arriving two minutes before a new exercise class and you’re in the only vehicle, aside from the instructor’s, in the parking lot. You get out of there – fast! The same goes for your Yammer network. Perform a cleanup of communities with fewer than two people and those that haven’t been active in 90 days. Archiving or deleting these communities will push people into more collaborative spaces and increase engagement. Work with community (formerly group) admins to consolidate communities with similar purposes and audiences. Of course, having a community clean up policy in place could have prevented you from having to perform a community cleanup in the first place.
Here are more proven ways to increase engagement in your Yammer network, now that you’ve tackled the first major step:
#1 – Give Everyone a Seat at the Table
Host a “State of the Yammer Network” meeting of the minds with IT, HR and Communications to ensure all parties are on the same page with regard to their contributions within your Yammer network. Neutral partnerships produce the best outcomes, and they’re pivotal for a successful Yammer network. Come up with a plan – who is going to do what by when.
#2 – Middle Management is the Critical Link
Executives might have been big proponents of Yammer from day one, but middle managers are the key connectors in getting employee buy-in. With the absence of their support, their teams might not even know about Yammer. Sit down with middle managers, one by one, to convince them to shift their work-related communications into Yammer. This will pull their employees along for a permanent communication change. Middle managers also need to model collaborative interactions with each other, so teach them how.
# 3 – Find Your Advocates:
Advocates are influential senior leaders who have witnessed the power of Yammer. They “influence up” to the CEO and “down” to their direct reports to encourage their people to use Yammer for work and learning. Empower them with the best information possible about Yammer best practices, and most importantly, listen to them.
#4 – Take an Idea and Make it Happen
Ask Yammer users for ideas or browse the network to find suggestions shared by who talk to customers and build your products daily. When a senior leader spots a good idea shared by an everyday employee in Yammer, the leader is validating all employees’ use of Yammer while building better products and experiences for customers.
#5 – Host a Week Without Email:
Work with middle managers to initiate a “Week Without Email” campaign in which their teams are forbidden from using email to communicate. Instead, point employees to a community in Yammer (or Microsoft Teams – you’ll need to provide some direction on which tool to use when) for collaboration. This approach is best used with teams where the walk-run-sprint methodology happens at a snail’s pace, and employees are hesitant to adopt new technologies without an extra “push.”
#6 – Use Administrative Features to Customize Your Yammer Network
With the new Yammer, you can now personalize it to make it look and feel like your company’s own product. First impressions count. This can help signal to employees that yes; Yammer truly is a company-blessed platform intended for safe collaboration. Upload your logo and a custom masthead design for external networks. Customize the All Company community by renaming it and adding a custom cover photo and avatar. Grab attention with new styling for polls, praise, and questions. For internal and external networks, you can choose from a palette of colors and designs, in addition to uploading your logo. There are plenty more ways to customize your company’s Yammer network.
Need help re-engaging your Yammer network? Email us for a consultation.