Authentic leadership at the heart of Medibank’s ‘conversation culture’

When Australia’s largest private health insurer, Medibank, launched a campaign for a vision statement, chief executive Craig Drummond asked his employees – all 3,800 of them – to share their ideas.

He used a Yammer group called “Craig Chat” where he asked; “What does quality of life mean to you?”

Craig explained the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) was developing a vision statement, but they wanted to hear from those who best knew the organisation – the employees, the people who speak with customers every single day.

By asking a question on Yammer, the communications channel used by Medibank to engage in discussion and connect everyone across the organisation, Craig was inviting and encouraging all employees to share their ideas.

He listened and responded to the answers and the campaign was tracked by SWOOP Analytics with the hashtag #vision.

“We wanted our people to feel part of the conversation and they had a voice in creating what our vision should be,” said Medibank’s Group Executive People & Culture, Kylie Bishop.

“This is the first time we’ve reviewed our vision and we wanted our employees to have authorship of it.”

Craig’s initial post kicked off the #vision campaign in August 2019 and over the next three weeks, three more members of the executive leadership team followed up with questions of their own.

In each post, it’s clear the leadership team had listened to the responses and built upon them to continue the conversation.

The online Yammer #vision campaign was supplemented by face to face engagement at divisional meetings and smaller workshops that employees could attend in person or virtually, at Medibank offices across Australia.

Medibank’s Employee Communications Advisor, Bailey Cunningham, said the four #vision questions from leaders all ranked in the top 10 Most Engaging Posts for the month, according to data from SWOOP.

A screenshot of Medibank’s SWOOP dashboard for Most Engaging Posts.

“The hashtag #vision ranked 6/10 for Hot Topics and remains in the Hot Topics months later, while Craig’s post continues to be the Most Engaging Post for the past three months, with two of the other three questions also in the top five,” said Bailey.

The responses and ideas resulting from the posts are now forming the basis for the vision statement. At the end of the three-week campaign, SWOOP showed there had been more than 220 comments and almost 1,200 likes, with more than one in 10 of all employees actively engaged in the conversation.

Overall, about 1,000 employees had the opportunity to contribute to Medibank’s vision statement through Yammer and face to face sessions.

Medibank uses data from SWOOP Analytics to identify which posts and hashtags are resonating, what are the hot topics, who are the influencers in the network and within groups, how groups compare, who is connecting with whom and which teams and departments are collaborating.

Launching Yammer at Medibank

Medibank is Australia’s largest private health insurer with 3.7 million customers. It launched its Yammer network in December 2016, and in less than a year 2,600 of the company’s 3,800 employees had activated their accounts, with more than half now active users.

The decision to implement Yammer was in response to a “fragmented landscape” where there were four intranets and a host of social network tools, which meant the company could not connect across its diverse workforce.

However, there was clearly an appetite within Medibank for its own social network with a goal to enhance employee engagement, productivity and greater connection between individuals, teams and across business units.

The network needed to connect employees working in retail, nurses working from home on help lines, call centres and those working in corporate locations.

They all needed to be kept up to date, connect and find colleagues. The decision was made to launch Yammer.

A pilot was launched within the retail arm and leadership immediately began replacing monthly emails with Yammer posts. They also used Yammer for recognition and praise of employees.

Since then, it has become a powerful tool at Medibank to drive conversation.

“Yammer is definitely a very well embedded channel,” Bailey said.

“It’s a very organic channel, very much employee generated. We use it to emphasise the conversation around certain programs of work and we do channel corporate information onto the platform, but a lot of it is people talking to each other about the things that interest them, whether it’s information they’re sharing as medical or health practitioners, or interesting articles that they’ve read about innovation”.

Medibank began using SWOOP in 2017 and 2019 is the second consecutive year Medibank has been among the top performers in SWOOP’s Global Benchmarking of Yammer networks.

Medibank’s Employee Communications Advisor, Bailey Cunningham.

Recently, Bailey encouraged the 100+ people in Medibank’s People & Culture Yammer group to access SWOOP to view their own online behaviours.

“People were really interested to see what their SWOOP persona is, and we got lots of responses from people saying; ‘Oh, it looks like I need to reply or like more,’ or ‘I need to ask more questions’,” Bailey said.

They now plan on making SWOOP accessible to more people to allow them to understand their engagement style.

Innovation and business outcomes

While Medibank’s Yammer network is a powerful resource for connecting people, launching campaigns, informing employees and sharing information, business value also comes from problem solving.

Medibank recently held its second hackathon which asked employees to submit ideas and solve problems to improve the quality of life for employees, customers and the community, an extension of the #vision campaign.

There are groups like “Fix It” where employees can raise anything that needs fixing to make supporting Medibank’s customers easier.

An admin team triages the issue raised and refers it to the relevant team.

The group has gained a cult following because things actually get fixed.

Bailey said there are now lots of user groups that result in business value.

“These user groups drive self-service, trying to resolve things themselves rather than having to go through formal communication channels,” she said.

Register now for your free trial of SWOOP and download SWOOP’s 2019 Global Yammer Benchmarking Report.

Subscribe To the SWOOP Newsletter

Join our mailing list, we regulary keep you up to date on the latest industry insights and research into Enteprise collaboration.

Thanks for Subscribing to SWOOP's newsletter