How one man is using Workplace to save the planet

When Australian Catholic University (ACU) launched Workplace by Facebook, one man tasked with addressing sustainability issues suddenly found he had a voice to reach thousands. He hoped to use Workplace as a platform to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. But was he engaging staff across the whole organisation or connecting with just a few? ACU turned to SWOOP for the answers. 

In Australia alone, it’s estimated one billion disposable coffee cups end up as landfill each year.

More than 300,000 of those cups come from Australian Catholic University (ACU) campuses.

It’s something the university wants to put an end to – and quickly. Staff and students love their coffee but hate the impact that love affair is having on the environment.

It’s time for change.

How do you get a 2,500 staff scattered across eight campuses and two continents connected and engaged about wanting change?

ACU’s answer is Workplace by Facebook. The university launched Workplace in early 2017, progressively making it available to all staff.

It was looking for a better way to communicate and a way to replace email.

ACU’s Chief Operating Officer & and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Stephen Weller.

ACU’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Stephen Weller, set goals to achieve the four ‘Cs’ with Workplace – Communication, Collaboration, Connection and Community.

It’s working.

A one-man band with a platform

Mark Doggett is ACU’s National Sustainability Manager. He’s a one-man band who, prior to the introduction of Workplace, struggled to get his message heard across an organisation that stretches across seven campuses in Australia and one in Rome, Italy with more than 35,000 students and more than 2,500 staff.

“There was a degree of frustration with the old platform, using emails,” Mr Doggett said.

“You couldn’t share comments and it wasn’t regular or targeted enough to create impact.”

With the introduction of Workplace, Mr Doggett has been recognised as one of the university’s influential people, with his posts regularly amongst the most engaging on ACU’s Workplace network, according to data supplied by SWOOP Analytics.

“It was a relief when Workplace came along,” Mr Doggett said.

“When it became available it meant I now had access to share the sustainability messaging with all staff. It’s a really agile medium to reach people with a message.”

Workplace was the perfect platform for Mr Doggett to address the disposable cup issue, which was in the media spotlight following a documentary by the national broadcaster on Australia’s waste.

He kicked off his campaign with this quirky post.

It was a deliberate move by Mr Doggett not to bore staff with the same message they were hearing in mainstream media.

“I wanted to use humour to appeal to people, that makes them want to engage,” he said.

Mr Doggett’s post was met with ideas for change, some as simple as better placement of recycle bins and more use of ceramic cups.

Who is listening?

While Mr Doggett’s campaign on Workplace was getting likes and comments, university leaders wanted to know who he was reaching. Was he engaging staff across the whole organisation or was Mr Doggett connecting with just a few?

Catherine Snelson, ACU’s Internal Communications and Engagement Manager, looked to SWOOP Analytics for the answers.

SWOOP immediately provides real-time data on who is connecting with whom, which teams and departments are collaborating, it shows every employee’s online behaviours, identifies influencers, assesses the levels of engagement between executives and frontline staff.

SWOOP will track sentiment in the network, tell you when people are posting, find the hot topics, show the health of the network, the most engaging posts and give every employee tips on how to improve their online collaboration.

To ensure every individual can understand their own online collaborative behaviour, SWOOP has identified five personas – the Observer (non-active), Broadcaster (someone who sends messages but does not engage), the Responder (prefers to react to conversation rather than initiate it), Catalyst (seeds conversation) and the most aspirational persona, the Engager (connects and sustain relationships).

Monitoring to maintain a healthy network

A screenshot of SWOOP’s Cross Team Collaboration measure showing the Sustainability@ACU group is connecting well with most departments.

Ms Snelson said she relies on SWOOP to provide data for weekly insight reports where the internal communications team can see the most engaging posts and comments, find out why some topics are spiking, if there are areas they need to focus on and identify the key influencers – which was how Mr Doggett came to leaders’ attention.

In fact, Ms Snelson says SWOOP’s Influencer Risk Score is a key measure for ACU.

SWOOP’s Influencer Risk Score measures the reliance of the network on a small number of influential people. A healthy network will not rely on just a few key people to keep it alive.

“We want to keep the Influencer Risk Score as low as possible and make sure all of our people feel confident about using Workplace,” Ms Snelson said.

“For us it’s all about advising staff, giving them ideas of what they could do differently on Workplace. It’s about trying to get people more active on Workplace.”

Ms Snelson said if some people are not posting, while others are getting lots of engagement, they will use the person with high engagement as a case study for what works.

“For example, with our one-year anniversary coming up, we’re using Mark as one of our case studies,” she said.

“We will go out and speak to key ambassadors, knock on the door of the influencers, point to examples of people who have gone out and asked for suggestions.

“We want staff to promote the work we’re doing and collaborate on Workplace.”

Authentic leadership

Back to the disposable cup campaign, Mr Doggett said thanks to Workplace and SWOOP, ACU’s leaders could see staff were engaged and passionate about wanting change.

Another of Mr Dogget’s posts in response to reducing landfill from disposable cups at ACU.

Dr Weller became heavily involved in the campaign, which led to more and more staff also engaging.

“Having the COO pushing this is a type of permission to put it on the agenda,” Mr Doggett said.

“If it matters to him, it matters to us.”

As a result of Mr Doggett’s campaign on Workplace, caterers at ACU must now give discounts to customers who bring their own reusable cup.

“That would not have happened if this had not been such a public conversation,” he said.

Collaboration champions

It’s this sort of engagement that resulted in ACU being ranked No.2 on SWOOP’s world-first benchmarking of 22 organisations using Workplace.

ACU has more than 80 per cent claimed Workplace accounts with 60 per cent of those being active, non-Observers, according to SWOOP data.

SWOOP Chief Scientist Dr Laurence Lock Lee found ACU was in the top two of the 22 organisations studied for Cohesion (mean two-way connections), Diversity and the percentage of Engager personas. ACU has a network performance score that places it as effectively connecting and sharing knowledge.

Dr Weller says before Workplace, the only analytical information available for internal communications was how many people had opened an email.

He said SWOOP’s analytics helps monitor and improve the ACU’s overall communication effectiveness.

“Workplace has delivered beyond expectations in terms of connecting staff,” Dr Weller said.

Dr Weller’s personal favourite on the SWOOP dashboard is the SWOOP Personas. He uses the personas to monitor and provide feedback to his own leadership team.

“I’m not using the Persona data to target poor performers, but to help us as a leadership group to develop our leadership capabilities around collaboration,” he said.

“Even myself, I monitor my own Persona regularly.”

Challenges ahead

Dr Weller said the challenge now facing ACU is to continue to build on and sustain the promising start made with Workplace. While some users are very active, others have low or almost no activity rate, according to SWOOP data.

Dr Weller is conscious of maintaining the momentum for Workplace and embedding it into the ACU culture as “the way we work”.

An example of Mr Doggett’s engaging posts.

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