NSW Department of Primary Industries

Saving time and taxpayers’ money with Workplace and SWOOP

At SWOOP we’re often asked about business outcomes. What are the benefits from using enterprise social networks and SWOOP? NSW Department of Primary Industries is saving money and time every day using Workplace to engage and collaborate while SWOOP is giving a clear view of where better connections are needed. Matthew McLellan, the Hatchery Manager at Narrandera Fisheries Centre, has eliminated at least 100 phone calls a season by using Workplace to communicate and he plans to soon completely remove email communication.

Matthew McLellan and his colleagues work in some of the most remote areas of the world.

They stock the rivers, dams and lakes of inland New South Wales, in Australia, with fish. They drive for hours, and sometimes days, to stock fish in outback, rural and remote areas.

Matt McLellan on Lake Cargelligo, in the Central West region of NSW, with fish stock.

Before NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) became the first government department in Australia to launch Workplace by Facebook to better engage and connect employees, Mr McLellan would make about 100 phone calls every season to notify fisheries officers in the area where his team was stocking fish.

He would also send emails, and when no reply came, he’d back that up with more phone calls. It takes hours and hours out of his busy day, and ultimately costs money.

With the introduction of Workplace, Mr McLellan set up a private group for Narrandera Fisheries Centre (NFC) Hatchery & Inland Compliance. Mr McLellan is the Hatchery Manager at NFC, located at Narrandera, in the southern inland Riverina region of NSW, and he invited colleagues into the group from across the state.

Locator shows Narrandera, NSW.

When fish are being stocked in any of the 100 stocking sites, information is posted on Workplace telling everyone of the plan. Phone calls have been eliminated and, unlike the emails, Mr McLellan can be sure of who has seen the post.

“By putting the information up on the group it’s there for all of us to see,” he said.

“You can put the post there and you can see who has seen it and what’s happening and it leads to discussion, which we didn’t have before.”

A Workplace post informing colleagues of fish stocking plans.

Mr McLellan recently put up a post about where his team was planning to stock fish. A colleague saw it and commented that there wasn’t much water in the area and it was an unsuitable spot.

“So that allowed us to change what our plans were rather than drive for hours somewhere only to find it wasn’t suitable and then have to turn around,” he said.

Mr McLellan has been dubbed a Workplace “champion” at NSW DPI, someone identified by SWOOP as an influential person.

Workplace Champions identified by SWOOP

NSW DPI eCommunications Officer Melissa Hamling says once Workplace “champions” are identified by SWOOP, they can be targeted to encourage and teach their colleagues to be more comfortable using Workplace.

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

With SWOOP, NSW DPI can see how many employees are actively using Workplace each day, week and month, when they are using it and what topics are making an impact.

An example of the Fish Hatcheries group on NSW DPI’s Workplace network.

Almost 2500 DPI staff work across more than 100 locations in NSW, with the head office located in the regional city of Orange, west of Sydney. The department is responsible for driving economic growth and investment in primary industries and works to develop and sustain diverse, profitable food and fibre industries.

By nature of the job, most employees are in the field and often away from computers.

One of the issues facing employees is the struggle to get internet connection and many have limited data. Despite these hurdles, DPI’s Workplace statistics are enviable. It boasts a claimed accounts rate of 92 per cent, with 55 per cent active users every week. Ms Hamling said SWOOP data shows about 1400 active users every week, with a steady upwards trend.

DPI piloted Workplace in May and June 2016 and went live across the department in September 2016, making it the first government department in Australia to do so.

Changing behaviours

Ms Hamling says for some of the older workforce, jumping onto Workplace to post an update or read a thread is not intuitive, whereas for many millennials, they’re entirely comfortable to use an enterprise social network within their place of work.

Matt McLellan with cod fish eggs.

Looking ahead, Mr McLellan would like to use Live streaming or videos on Workplace to stay in touch with staff that are working in different locations or spend a lot of time in the field.

“It would be a short video once a week giving a bit of a run down and it’s a way to inform people and I think the benefit here is there are so many staff who turn up on a Monday morning, pack their vehicles and head out into the field,” he said.

“Getting everybody together is difficult so I really think there’s a lot of potential to do it with video, and it’s quicker than writing a long email.”

Mr McLellan also plans to eliminate emails when the next stocking season starts in December, with all communication solely on Workplace.

He believes posting weekly videos will help with connection as many staff don’t actually see colleagues face to face.

“Once people actually see something and they do comment back on it, people start getting involved. It makes for more productive work relationships and generally they’re more engaged in work as well,” Mr McLellan said.

Using SWOOP to get staff engaged on Workplace

Using Workplace to notify colleagues of fish stocking sites.

DPI uses SWOOP to monitor which groups are collaborating and which need support. The internal communications team has monthly Workplace campaigns, a “how to” video series for Workplace, and pop-up sessions where Ms Hamling and her team visit regional offices where there is lower engagement and active users.

Currently, one of the most popular SWOOP measurements is the “Most Engaging Posts”. Ms Hamling says this is used to highlight what works in the top posts and the information is used to create discussion points on how best to engage staff or highlight how a problem was solved.

Looking ahead

Collaborating and engaging with colleagues at NSW DPI.

As the Workplace network matures at DPI, Ms Hamling says the next step is to encourage staff to make efficiencies in their everyday work by moving discussion to Workplace, which will boost productivity.

“On face value this channel is about collaboration and communication but it’s actually about that business goal at the end,” she said.

“We’re now thinking about how to help people make that leap in mindset.”

A goal ahead is to encourage senior leaders to access the analytics provided by SWOOP to monitor their own behaviours and influence others. Ms Hamling says she plans to use SWOOP to create healthy competition amongst executives by encouraging them to become one of SWOOP’s aspirational personas – an Engager or Catalyst.

Please contact SWOOP for a free two-week trial.


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