Blackwoods is a great example of an organisation that is driven by its people no matter their position. With strong backing from CEO Rachel McVitty, Blackwoods identified the strategic importance of culture in building a better digital experience to enable employees to stay connected and heard during challenging times.
In launching Yammer at Blackwoods, McVitty supported the launch with her own video content, which was watched on Yammer by almost 50% of the organisation. It focused on the history and culture that was ‘Uniquely Blackwoods’ and encouraged people to share their own stories on what makes Blackwoods a great place to work.
Blackwoods is Australia’s largest supplier of industrial and safety products. As such, it has people spread across some of the most remote workplaces in the country. This can make employee engagement tough. This difficulty was compounded when head office staff needed to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
To drive engagement and build a shared sense of culture and community for their 2000+ team members, Blackwoods leveraged their investment in Microsoft 365. They chose Yammer as the preferred enterprise social network platform and started a small Yammer pilot. With the pandemic situation worsening, the need to launch more widely across the business became an imperative.
“It was great to get the advice from the team at Engage Squared,” Nathan Gardiner, the Blackwoods social media manager, said. “We could have launched a new platform and it be a flash in the pan, but the leadership team listened to the advice from Engage Squared and embraced the strategic direction we chose. It was a great result.”
A key part of the advice from Engage Squared was to ensure the leadership team was invested in the success of the platform. The Yammer launch, and accompanying CEO video, was the first time in 140 years that Blackwoods team members could have a visible two-way digital conversation with their CEO.
Another key to success, Nathan attributes to focussing on Yammer being about the culture and not about the technology. The approach developed by Engage Squared to focus on ‘Uniquely Blackwoods’ was easy to communicate, as “everyone has a story to tell.”
The engagement of Engage Squared accelerated the time to launch by over 4 weeks and the level of engagement surpassed the expectations of what Blackwoods thought was possible. As Nathan puts it, “Blackwoods is on a fast track to a better digital experience”.
Over the past 140 years, Blackwoods has grown from being a small marine supply business on the banks of Sydney Harbour, to Australia’s largest provider of industrial and safety supplies. As part of Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety (WIS), they support businesses, big and small, with over 200,000 leading brands and products including personal protective equipment, welding and gas, power tools, hand tools, workwear and more.