Listening to employees through Workplace and SWOOP

What do stingless bees have to do with a Workplace network? For Australian Catholic University (ACU), the stingless bees are an example of how its Workplace network has connected thousands of staff across the country and led to immediate business value.

In November last year, an ACU employee in Brisbane, on Australia’s east coast, asked on Workplace if it was possible to have a stingless beehive on the campus, given Brisbane’s subtropical climate was perfect for the native bees and the species is vital to pollinate local crops, flowers and bushland.

Within 24 hours, ACU’s Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Stephen Weller, had commented on the post expressing his interest in the idea. He @ mentioned staff from Properties and Facilities in his comment and asked them to discuss the idea and see if it was something that could be considered.

Before Christmas, ACU boasted a stingless beehive on its Brisbane campus. It happened just over a month after the idea was first raised.

“Before we had Workplace, it would have taken months for something like this to happen,” said ACU’s Director of Marketing and External Relations, Kathy Vozella.

The beehive is an example of how Workplace has helped change the culture at ACU.

“It’s made people feel closer,” said Kathy.

“One of the things we hear from staff about Workplace is that people feel more connected to what’s going on and connected to each other.”

SWOOP recently conducted the world’s largest-ever analysis of Workplace by Facebook networks, examining 68 organisations worldwide who opted into SWOOP’s benchmarking.

The analysis represents more than 630,000 users over a six-month period and more than 15 million online interactions, across a breadth of industry sectors and geographies.

ACU is the only organisation to be among the top performers in SWOOP’s Benchmarking of Workplace networks for the second consecutive year.

Live on Workplace

ACU is a publicly funded university with seven campuses around Australia. It also has a presence in Europe, having opened the Rome Campus in Italy in 2015. The university has more than 32,000 students from 160 countries and more than 2,500 staff.

ACU launched Workplace in early 2017, progressively making it available to all staff.

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

Dr Weller set goals to achieve the four ‘Cs’ with Workplace: Communication, Collaboration, Connection and Community.

He watched as many active groups were formed across a plethora of interest areas.

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

More than 2,000 ACU employees have now claimed their Workplace accounts.

Keeping employees engaged

ACU has been using SWOOP since 2017. Kathy said SWOOP had revealed the most engaging posts on the network tend to be those about people.

Kathy Vozella, Director of Marketing and External Communications, ACU.

“Using SWOOP, we realised content that was people-focused performed well and attracted a lot of engagement,” she said.

“People really liked engaging with content about staff movements, such as promotions, new people joining teams, or staff leaving the organisation. Likewise, posts that offered recognition or praise to a team or individual also attract a lot of attention.”

Based on this knowledge, the Internal Communications team developed a staff profile series.

Every fortnight a short video is published on Workplace featuring an employee answering four questions about themselves: What was your first job? Who is someone you really admire? What is your biggest achievement? What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

While the profile series can be used to promote initiatives and activities that the featured staff member is involved in, there’s a strong personal focus.

“It’s really about the individual,” Kathy said.

The link to the fortnightly staff profile video is also included in the staff bulletin email. To watch, employees must login to Workplace.

“Staff members who wouldn’t necessarily use Workplace on a daily basis might be drawn in by the opportunity to watch the staff profile,” Kathy said.

“They perform really well. People love hearing these stories and learning about the other side of the people they work with. It’s been a community-building initiative.”

The power of analytics

With SWOOP, ACU has identified areas with lower engagement and is working with those team leaders to support or educate them to consider different use cases for Workplace that would deliver results for them.

Dr Weller says using Workplace to broadcast information, which would have previously been sent in an email, allows for engagement across the workforce.

Before Workplace, the only analytical information available was how many people had opened the email.

Dr Stephen Weller, COO & Deputy Vice-Chancellor, ACU.

With SWOOP, ACU can now see all levels of engagement, see who are influential people around a topic and what posts are the most engaging.

Dr Weller said SWOOP’s analytics help monitor and improve ACU’s overall communication effectiveness.

Dr Weller’s favourite feature 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.

“I even monitor my own Persona regularly.”

He also uses SWOOP to benchmark his leaders once a month to see how they are engaging on Workplace.

Father Anthony Casamento, Vice President, ACU.

Ask me anything

Workplace is endorsed by senior leaders at ACU. This was evident when Vice President Father Anthony Casamento did a live video on Workplace where he invited staff to ask him anything about ACU’s Mission.

The questions came in thick and fast and were wide ranging across many topics. SWOOP showed it as the most engaging post for the month.

Cutting through the noise

Kathy said recent changes to Workplace algorithms, where newsfeeds now only display content for groups that someone has joined, or people that someone follows, has helped with the “noise” on the network.

“The noise was a bit of an issue for new users when they logged in initially,” she said.

“It was a bit overwhelming because there was a lot going on. We have quite a few open groups so there was a lot of content at that early stage when you first log in.”

But she said the changes made by Workplace have improved the experience for users.

To learn more about how Workplace is making a difference at ACU, read our case study here.

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