Groupon, a leader of local and national commerce, operates in more than 500 markets globally. With 12,000 employees across the world it serves over 53 million active customers.
Back in 2012, Global Social Business Strategist Andrew Mishalove (pictured right) was hired to create a new digital workplace presence.
“The company had acquired many businesses around the world. It was like having almost 40 different organisations, each one with their own intranet. There wasn’t one single repository for HR policies, internal communications or collaboration efforts.”
Start with a vision
The idea was to start building something universal for the entire workforce.
From the beginning, he had three clearly defined strategic goals: building one corporate directory; creating a single corporate news and communications channel; and developing an HR Resource Centre with each geographical area having access to their own policy and information.
Do your homework when choosing the platform
When he joined the company, Mishalove still had a mind-set of the past: “the traditional portal where administrators create content for a rather passive audience.”
Yet, he made his homework and quickly learned about new ways of working. “I did my research. I found out about companies using internal networks such as Yammer, Socialcast, Moxie or Jive, to boost collaborative efforts among a global workforce.“
While contemplating the idea of launching a similar platform inside Groupon, he ended up sitting with a variety of analysts in the field. Plus, he attended portals, collaboration and social business conferences, as well as seminars and demos around the world.
“I finally figured out that Jive was the right solution for our specific goals.”
Focus on experience at individual level
The platform was highly customisable. This was particularly important for building adoption inside a complex business like Groupon. “To build a robust social enterprise, we needed to be able to tailor the tool to our individuals’ needs.”
His initial work focused on user interface and design, as well as the creation of a customised experience at a personal level. Now, when staff log into Jive they have immediately access to what is relevant to them, such as the contacts and material that are very specific to their own job. Rich user profiles provide everything employees need to know about a colleague all in one place. Plus, the ability to search for information in different ways – via people, content, and places – to make faster decisions.
“That incentivizes people to come back and use it frequently.”
Collaboration…not a dream any more
Today, the vast majority of employees are logging into the system to consume information daily. As far as making contributions is concerned, the percentage of active users has reached 84%.
What seems to drive such a high level of engagement from the bottom-up is “compelling editorial material”. Plus, the fact that even small teams have the opportunity to formulate and share their own ideas regularly, often impacting on official business implementations.
There are hundred of use cases around collaboration. “For example, the Sales Teams generate reports on a daily basis together. The same is for the Editorial teams.” The entire global editorial manual is now available on the platform. Editors and writers are required to enter their community every day to see the latest changes and updates to the style and generation of content.
Customer Service teams also use their own group to post questions, and get feedback from experts very quickly. “They now have one place to go in order to find all the material on call centres services, the information necessary for dealing with clients complaints, latest news, training, and changes to policies.”
While transitioning from Jive 6 to Jive 7, Mishalove is looking at integrating third parties applications. One of these is Salesforce, currently used by employees in charge of highly complicated deals.
The complex nature of their work, often require them to get feedback and input from different teams (e.g. customer service, call centre, editorial and PR).
“Narrowing the integration between the two platforms means agents working on Salesforce can view cases’ information in the context of the community discussion that generated them.” They would be able to track down all the history of interactions happened around a customer enquiry, and make more informed and better decisions when managing important business deals.
A vision for employee engagement
Part of Mishalove’s original vision was also to increase the level of employee engagement. “For staff operating across more than 45 countries it can be easy to feel disconnected with the HQ or the rest of the company. And, if employees don’t feel united to the organisation, it’s difficult to cultivate loyalty, productivity and ownership.”
He believes that if you can increase connectivity and activity within the global network, you can boost engagement and people retention. He gives the example of a colleague working from Japan lamenting of not having any insight on what the HQ in North America was working on. “That was upsetting for her, as it was for many others. But, now there is a single place to get access to all that information. We can communicate beyond borders and understand how we work in each country.”
Aligned with the idea of having a global working culture, the leadership team has established a global strategy. It focuses on the entire company operating from one single playbook, defining how the work done at the HQ ties up with every other geographical area of the business. “It is one of the initiatives we are implementing on the network to build a consistent experience for our people, making them feel connected to the overall performance of the company.”
Engagement is not very easily measurable. “Yet, there are some clues we can use to say that something has moved.” He refers to friendly comments made by people who once were very passive, the lot of sharing happening across geographies, new relationships unfolding, and teams becoming more productive.
Leadership…are you with us?
Adoption and engagement from management is essential in establishing a meaningful intranet system. “It’s definitely something we’re constantly working to improve”.
Before there was mass adoption of the intranet, leadership were communicating predominantly through emails, even for global company announcements and important notes to the whole employee-base. But, Mishalove is working on getting them more involved on the platform. For example, “we started to do executives’ interviews and post the videos exclusively on Jive.”
Executives meeting are also organised on the platform, with the communications department helping leaders with their content and presentations.
Next on the agenda, is the creation of an area “where all the executives’ blogs will be aggregated into one space,” a channel where senior managers can share day-to-day thoughts on the company’s direction.”
Walking the talk
There are good examples of why getting leaders on board is critical. One of these comes from the Global Director of Information Technology, who uses the social network regularly and very actively to build personal connections with her people.
She writes her own blog and posts weekly. When traveling she ensures to communicate very openly on everything happening during the business trip. The entire team is following her posts, and commenting on them.
“Morale has improved since she came on board and strategically utilized the platform to communicate with team members. Now, everyone has embraced it enthusiastically. It comes down to her leadership style of transparency and walking the talk.”