Yammer launched in just 7 days during COVID-19, to enable 2-way communication with first responders

The Challenge

In the massive state of Western Australia, the first responders in a medical emergency are from St John Ambulance. When coronavirus became prevalent in March this year, St John needed a way to get out information rapidly, especially to first responders around the evolving Covid-19 situation. 

Fortunately, St John WA was already working with Engage Squared to plan the roll out of Yammer. Strategically, the decision was made to pivot and collapse a planned 10-week program into launching Yammer in just 7 days. 

The Solution

It was very important for us to get key messages out, especially for Covid-19, rapidly and in a uniform way,” said Christina Blake, Head of Community Engagement & Internal Comms, at St John. “At St John we looked to breakdown silos and fill the gaps in connecting our workforce. Accessibility is important for volunteers, and the advantage of Yammer is they can connect easily through their mobile devices.” 

St John has 120-year tradition of providing high quality ambulance services and first aid. The workforce is made up of about 2,000 employees and 8,000 volunteers. Many are first responders, who are dispersed over the largest state in Australia

Prior to this project, St John WA had very limited communication and collaboration tools available to its workforce. Staff and volunteers were reliant on push communications delivered via phone, email, the website and their SharePoint intranet. To communicate with their geographically dispersed workforce, bulk emails would be sent, and team chats and updates were often sent within private Facebook groups, commonly set-up and run by volunteers.  

According to Christina Blake – the decision to launch Yammer aligned well with their cultural priorities, including listening to staff and volunteers and enabling greater leadership visibility. Overall, St John WA want to ensure front line staff learning is based on facts, customer case examples and continuous learning. A perfect fit for Yammer. 

The Achievements

In the first few weeks, users on the new Yammer network grew from a handful on the project team to over 2000. And there was a steady increase in users and engagement in the 6 weeks since. 

Through Yammer, St John WA CEO Michelle Fyfe has been able to send out video updates and key message posts across the organisation on topics covering the flu vaccine, downloading of the COVID- Safe app, updates from the Medical Director for frontline staff, along with updates from the Executive Team. These video updates have proved popular and each are seen by over 650 staff and volunteers.  

Operational managers were able to ask for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) usage queries to made on a Yammer thread to be collated onto a FAQ page. This is a terrific use case for the role Yammer played during the Covid-19, to help keep staff informed, and ensure they and their patients are kept safe. 

The results overall for the new Yammer network have been impressive. St John WA had the foresight to activate Swoop Analytics from the outset. Response rates were sitting at 88 percent, well above the global average.  

From a security perspective, the project has also enabled to transfer closed private Facebook groups to more inclusive Yammer conversations on an endorsed Microsoft platform. 

Yammer has also given leaders and operational managers the ability to share, amplify and endorse posts and gauge sentiment across the organisation. And most importantly it has enabled for first responders to be actively involved in two-way conversations and obtain information rapidly in the uncertain times of the pandemic.  

Value Provided and Outcomes

  • On day 1, the network had a single CEO video. By day 7, the network had 2,000 users. 
  • Yammer provided an opportunity for communications with front-line employees to become two-way for the first time.
  • A user reported that the dictation function on iPad was extremely useful for writing up clinical notes, halving the time taken.  This time saving tip was shared Company-wide, allowing others to save time
  • A lot of critical content was communicated out to the business in times of need in the form of short videos, for example showing how ventilation machines work in an ambulance.
Mark Woodrow and Matt Dodd, from Engage Squared ran workshops for the leadership team and community leads, in the St John WA head office – but most joined remotely for social distancing.

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