Building a connected culture at First West Credit Union with Yammer

First West Credit Union—a BC-based financial institution that helps their customers think differently about banking—set out to foster rich conversations with 1,400 regionally distributed employees.

The challenge

Bring together a regionally diverse workforce through rich online communications while still reflecting distinct regional brands and multiple lines of business.

The outcome

An employee engagement platform built on Yammer becomes a successful culture building tool, helping unite employees.

Free lunches? Fridays off? Nope. Yammer.

Seated in his office in Langley, British Columbia, Bryan Mavrow is on the phone, and he’s saying: “It’s probably been the single most powerful culture-builder in this organization.” Free lunches? Fridays off? Nope. Yammer. Surprised? Bryan was, too. But with 1,400 employees active on the platform, the Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Communications comes to this conclusion: “Yammer has united us all.”

The opportunity

While First West’s newly launched intranet, The Hub, satisfied the organization’s informational needs, the team mulled over how best to meet First West’s community-building needs. Given the company’s traditionally conservative culture, Yammer wasn’t a clear favourite.“We were looking at it with a lot of trepidation,” admits Bryan. “Although CIO Darrell Jaggers and I are both digitally-native, we had concerns about what would happen in a free-form environment. Habanero showed us how other organizations were using Yammer, and I really credit them with their advocacy of the tool.”

How we helped

Habanero worked closely with the credit union’s communications team to identify specific use cases. Brian Bevilacqua, Senior Manager of Communications and PR, cites one: “Before, we didn’t have a space where employees could share and discuss news about the industry. We discussed how people could post this type of information and interact with it on Yammer, driving awareness about our business and what’s going on in the world.”With several use cases established, First West came to see Yammer as a space for employees to connect and which fostered rich conversations. The team agreed that Yammer stories would be displayed on The Hub’s homepage, but the two would technically remain separate. “For example, when we have an organizational change, there are a lot of smaller connected updates and conversations along the way that we don’t want to push out on the front page of the intranet because that creates noise. Yammer is the place for those conversations,” says Bryan. Having carefully articulated how Yammer could support the business, we coached First West’s Communications team through its launch.

The outcome

“To take advantage of Microsoft’s FastTrack O365 Adoption Funding program, a certain number of people have to be using the tool by a certain date. We had many activities planned to drive adoption,” recalls Brian. “But in the end, we didn’t have to do any of them. After we soft-launched to a small group, Yammer went viral. More than 400 people joined in the first week.”

“We have about 1,400 staff and more than 150 groups active on Yammer. That’s about two-thirds of us,” Bryan reports. “It has just energized our model. Because while we honour local brands and they have their own cultural feel, Yammer has united us all.” He reveals that First West’s CEO takes to Yammer to write notes of appreciation and that employees at one branch have used it to compliment a marketing program running at another. “It has really created a village.”

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