Using Yammer to Engage Employees at a Large Multinational CPG Company

Featuring Senior Marketing Analyst Hillary Schnip



Hillary Schnip has over five years of marketing & operations experience across the advertising, consumer products, athletics, and professional services industries. She became an early adopter and avid user of Yammer when she worked at a CPG company and was named a Yambassador, i.e., a Yammer ambassador. Feel free to reach out to Hillary on LinkedIn to learn more about her experience using Yammer, or post your questions in the comments section below.


The Backstory


Amidst our #msloc430 discussions on communities and networks, it is worth mentioning that Hillary is a key example of someone who overlaps across my Bentley community, Bentley alumni network, personal learning network, and social network — and we happen to have the same birthday. It is no surprise Salvation Taco, NYC, 2015.that our conversations span across several topics, including planning our upcoming Spring Break trip to Copenhagen, talking about our existent (or in my case, non-existent) love lives, discussing our graduate school goals and career aspirations, and reflecting on how our work is integrated into our lives.

When I read Samir Desai’s comment on my previous blog post about his interest in seeing how I use my network to research how ESNs drive performance and manage change, I was immediately reminded of a conversation I had with Hillary when we were catching up in NYC back in June 2015. We were talking about what we did for St. Patrick’s Day — Hillary, who usually worked out of the corporate office outside of NYC, had the opportunity to spend the day all over the city because of her involvement with St. Patrick’s Day premium drink promotions. She mentioned how Yammer was such a useful tool, especially with its mobile app, to keep cross-location sales and marketing teams engaged; because of her early adoption and avid use of the enterprise social network, she was picked out as a Yambassador at her company.

The Interview

What sparked your interest in using Yammer?
This CPG company has about 33,000 people globally — people are in different categories, so it can feel very fragmented and siloed. Because we are one company, I believe that we should be able to leverage all skill sets. When the company rolled out Yammer, I saw it as a way to not only instant message other colleagues, but to also put faces and personalities to names through their uploaded photos and Yammer activity.

How did using Yammer change your work environment?
Using Yammer helped create a more casual environment compared to other enterprises of this size, by allowing people to share their experiences both inside and outside of work.

For example, I learned about which company-wide resource groups my colleagues were a part of and/or supported in addition to what activities they were involved with in the community. The more we used Yammer, the higher the participation in group events and volunteer experiences. Employees were becoming more involved as they saw their peers participating, creating a sense of admiration that they too wanted to be a part of.

We also met colleagues from different offices and functions within the company and had the opportunity to get to know each other on both a professional and personal level. Colleagues who already partook in the resource groups in-person typically networked with others from within their functions and/or regions; however, using Yammer groups allowed them to build stronger relationships globally, showcasing the great work being done and not just within their current office, but also across the world. This created several good conversations and drove sparks in encouragement and engagement.

How did you become a Yambassador?
As a marketing professional who works heavily with sales, I noticed that several of our sales employees tend to feel very under-recognized because they primarily work in the field or remotely. I took the initiative to use Yammer as a way of building a sense of pride among the sales teams. I started to publicly congratulate them on our all-company page, and other colleagues “liked” these posts. Shortly thereafter, others started to post on their own; the organic growth of this tool was so exciting to see and encouraged others to keep working hard. Leadership took notice and coined me as a Yambassador.

What did you do as a Yambassador?
As a Yambassador, I would coach and encourage others to use Yammer by leading small-group training sessions and showing my colleagues examples of how to use this tool. I was also tasked with helping other functions and smaller teams create private groups for work collaboration, which in effect increased productivity.
When someone would bring up a good idea in a meeting or e-mail an event photo to me, I’d say “That’s great! Post it to Yammer!” even though I could sometimes sense a little resistance. Often times my colleagues would ask me to post it on Yammer for them, but I empowered them to post it themselves by explaining how it is a new way to get involved and get noticed at work and how it aligns with our company’s values (e.g., being proud of what we do and valuing each other). After a few months, Yammer usage started to become more organic, especially when my colleagues realized that it takes very little effort to learn and use and how much it can increase employee morale through simply sharing pictures, articles, etc. and “liking” posts on their newsfeeds.

What were some challenges you faced as a Yambassador?
People were often resistant to change and claimed that they preferred e-mail, even though they hadn’t given Yammer a shot. Some of those who did create a Yammer account were still hesitant to post because of how similar it is to Facebook. Some people are just anti social media and they don’t want it intruding their workspace.

Another challenge was trying to ensure that Yammer did not replace certain in-person meetings. For example, requests that are extremely urgent along with high-profile and confidential information should not be transferred through an ESN, but through other secure and immediate channels. We had to find the right balance of what was Yammer-appropriate (e.g., the “nice to know” community involvement items and team collaboration efforts) versus inappropriate (e.g., sensitive data).

How did you use Yammer to drive performance?
I used Yammer to instill a friendly competition, particularly among the different sales teams. In the CPG industry, we rely heavily on sales and emphasize the importance of hitting our target numbers. During St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be fun to see which sales managers could get the most displays in the market, and they needed to post photos or other “evidence” on Yammer within a certain timeframe. This competition between the different sales teams was a good team-builder because it allowed team members to collaborate and discuss their strategies, and non-sales employees at the office also had the opportunity to engage in the competition through commenting on and “liking” Yammer posts. Everyone had a blast! This even became a success story of how having fun through Yammer helped our sales teams exceed our target numbers by far!

What do you like the most about Yammer?
I really love seeing what my colleagues are doing all around the world, not just in my immediate office. There are several instances where people from the NYC office tagged people in the London office about their travels, either for business or leisure, to London and how they would appreciate any local recommendations. Some London colleagues not only responded with their suggestions, but also took the time to meet up with NYC colleagues and show them around, and of course post photos of themselves together on Yammer!

Additional Resources

A few weeks ago, I came across the EY Performance journal article, Change 3.0: using social media to engage your workforce, which includes the following examples of social collaboration tools that can be used to engage employees:

430 EY Screenshot

One thought on “Using Yammer to Engage Employees at a Large Multinational CPG Company

  1. Alexa, I really appreciate how Hillary used Yammer to connect with associates in the field–building and maintaining relationships with associates working outside the corporate office can be challenging, and using Yammer to do that is a great idea. I also like her training strategies: teaching small groups, and helping set up collaborative work spaces for teams are strategies that I am going to borrow. I would love to hear more if HIllary’s ideas, especially since my company is moving toward Yammer!

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