employee experience

Check out this webinar with Adam and Becca to dig into how you can leverage technology to cultivate a digital employee experience (EX) that rivals the potlucks and ping pong tables of the past.

A strong employee engagement program includes more than just a few fun and flashy games around the office. A program that will help you both retain and attract strong team members looks at how an employee feels connected, empowered and equipped. In the past year, companies have shifted everything online and here at Worksighted we’ve worked hard to make sure to keep our employee experience top of mind.

With a little creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and the right tools at your disposal, you can create ways for employees to feel connected to both one another and the company at large. You can create efficient ways to train and empower your employees to take their work to the next level.

In this webinar, we focus on real-life examples of how we’ve used Microsoft Teams to power our employee experience. In fact, it’s become the base of operations for our company. Even though we are scattered, communication has never been better.

To learn more about how to make Teams your base of operations, check out our latest whitepaper.

download whitepaper

Rebecca Zaagman:

Well, hello everyone, and welcome to our latest Worksighted webinar, and I am behind this very fun flamingo. This is a spring break themed episode today. A little bit sad that we’re not on the beaches in Florida, but we brought a little fun for you, so here we go.

Adam Devereaux:

Hey, everyone. We’re here today to talk about employee engagement, and I am excited. We got a couple of special guests that we’re going to bring in towards the end of the webinar. And I’m joined here on stage by my colleague Rebecca Zaagman, who’s been a huge part of the webinars, and now this is the second time that you get to be in front of the camera.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. I’m very excited to be here, and we are talking all about employee engagement today, and we also have some extra special guests coming, kind of towards the end of the webinar. We’ve got Ashley Marsden from here at Worksighted on our HR team, going to talk to us about some of the ways that we’ve done employee engagement here at Worksighted, as well as Betsy Drake from Lambert is going to be joining us as well. She’s one of our awesome clients, and we’ve been excited about all the different ways that they’ve used technology in different ways to promote employee engagement at their company, as well.

Adam Devereaux:

So, what is employee engagement, Rebecca? I think the key thing is that this is a topic that’s talked about by a lot of people, right? So, part of what we’re hoping to do here is not reinvent the wheel, but talk about some different pillars and ways to think about it, and problems that companies are having with employee engagement now.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, definitely. Employee engagement and employee experience, we’re going to kind of use those terms interchangeably, but that kind of brings us to what does it look like in the past, like before COVID, before the world changed, right? Because it looked a lot like happy hours, and we did a ton of potlucks, things here in this room that we’re sitting in now. Things like playing yard games out in the parking lot. But it really goes beyond just that social aspect. So, a big piece of employee engagement, you want people to feel connected.

Rebecca Zaagman:

But also, think about how you did training in the past. This room right here, we call it the Bunker, and it’s our largest room here at our office in Holland, and I’ve been through numerous trainings here in the Bunker, where we’ve had 10-50 people that are right here. Things like staff meetings, but also even beyond events, to how your employees feel engaged? How do they grow in their position? How do they access knowledge? How do they collaborate with teammates? All of these things can encompass employee engagement.

Rebecca Zaagman:

I just have some pictures here I wanted to show. This is some awesome ways that we did employee engagement in the past.

Adam Devereaux:

The good old days.

Rebecca Zaagman:

The good old days. It really does feel like that. All these unmasked people hanging out together.

Adam Devereaux:

It’s like a different lifetime. It’s a world ago, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, it does feel like that. So, leadership retreats, wellness challenges, client breakfasts. We had some awesome times together.

Adam Devereaux:

And will again.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And will again, yeah. We are definitely hopeful for that. But as we move forward, this has changed. An employee’s primary experience now is a digital experience.

Adam Devereaux:

For a lot of organizations.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yep. So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about today, is how to do employee engagement in a remote and a hybrid way. So, we will be focusing on those two terms, knowing that’s not going to be applicable to every organization, but the ones that we are going to focus on today. And a primary vehicle for that is Microsoft Teams. So, yeah, why is Microsoft Teams a good spot to hang out in?

Adam Devereaux:

Well, I think if we talk a little bit about the why here. Now, we’re not here to convince you that employee engagement is a good idea, right? We’re kind of assuming that most of you want invested, engaged employees, people that are looking at their job as, in many cases, more than simply just punching in and punching out, but something that helps provide meaning, or just at least a satisfying work life, right? And I think when we look at Microsoft Teams, in many ways, when we look at this shift away, and more and more remote, and we’ll dive into some more details on that, you need platforms for this communication to live in.

Adam Devereaux:

You need to kind of have an official location for different types of collaboration than what has existed in the past, when it was just email and phone calls, right? Video face to face can make a huge difference. Instant messaging, chatting. Even when you look at the type of communications that used to happen, how can we replicate some of those communication channels, those more informal conversations that people have? When you look at the old days of being in a common space with people, you’ve told me too, about how when you first started at Worksighted, it was helpful to be sitting next to people that are kind of guides, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yep.

Adam Devereaux:

You can just ask a question about things.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. A lot of times I would just float out a question to the room, and luckily I had people that were sitting close by, even though they were on different teams, I could say, “Hey, could anybody help me out with this?” And somebody would try and ride in. So, that’s kind of what we’re playing with today, is how do you replicate those in person experiences, but online? Microsoft Teams is a great option for that, so that’s what we’re going to be talking about, but first, we just want to talk about the why of employee engagement.

Rebecca Zaagman:

We’ve got some stats here on screen. 21% of organizations with highly engaged employees have greater profitability. So, there is an ROI on this. It’s not just the soft side. It’s not just something that you do for fun, or because you’ve got somebody that likes to do happy hours. It actually can impact the profitability and the success of your business.

Adam Devereaux:

Which I think in many cases we know, but it can be helpful to have numbers. It can be helpful to say, hey, this is something we’re going to invest in, but this isn’t just because we want to invest in that soft side. But there is a real business benefit to it. But it’s a little like, humans like interaction, right? Like, we don’t want to be extremely …

Rebecca Zaagman:

Like try make our …

Adam Devereaux:

Sociopathic about all this, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. Humans into machines. That’s not what we’re trying to do.

Adam Devereaux:

Exactly. The point is really that we’re people helping people. That’s the core of so many businesses, that we’re doing this for a reason, and it’s not just … the business may exist for its own goals, right? Like to make money, to be successful and move forward. But typically, and people talk about Millennials, and what I think almost everybody, the idea, the goal is to have a job that maybe it’s not your dream, but at least it’s gratifying, it’s satisfying. You are rewarded by the work that you do. And whether that’s because of your interaction with customers, whether it’s the relationship that you have with your coworkers, or it’s the challenges that you’re solving, any job really can be gratifying and provide a craftsmanship, a reward.

Adam Devereaux:

But when, for me at least, being stuck in front of a webcam all day long, it can make that difficult. It’s harder because I’m not having that face-to-face. And I think different people are wired differently about those things, but that’s kind of the point, is you need to, for most organizations, be able to reach all of those different personalities, and be able to connect people.

Adam Devereaux:

I think the key thing is intentionality, right? What we’ve discovered is that you really have to be a lot more intentional about making connections, about providing those opportunities. It’s not just incidental. It doesn’t happen as much just by happenstance, of people literally standing by the water cooler. Now, it’s a virtual function, and you have to promote that. You have to push that, for the health of your colleagues, your employees, and your business.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yes. A lot of people are creatures of habit, right? So, they’re not going to go out of their way to do things that aren’t necessarily beneficial to them?

Adam Devereaux:

Well, they’re not thinking of it.

Rebecca Zaagman:

They’re not thinking of it, yeah. So, one of the things that I’m really passionate about is this idea that technology alone doesn’t run an organization, but people do. And that’s how we want to approach this conversation today, is that technology can be a really powerful tool, but in and of itself, it won’t run your organization. We’re not quite there yet. But we want it to be something that comes alongside of your people, empowers them to do better work. And not just because it helps the bottom line, but because we are excited about helping people grow.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And so, how do we do that with technology by its side? So, we’re super excited to talk about this today, and just kind of in the new era that we’re in, I’m not going to say unprecedented, but how do we even provide the tools that managers need to lead remotely? Insights and data and things that can help them …

Adam Devereaux:

Stay connected.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, stay connected, and make better decisions.

Adam Devereaux:

And know where people are at. I mean, people often put on a brave face, or they act, “Oh, I’m fine, how are you?” It’s that initial reaction. And when you are working with somebody eight hours a day, and you can see them, it’s easier to pick up on those subtleties of understanding how is somebody doing. It’s a lot harder when you’re just staring through webcams at each other.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Definitely. And before we jump in even father, I just want to make sure that we call out that we would love to see you guys over in the chat, and any questions that you have, put them in the Q and A. I will be watching them live. We’ll probably save most of the questions until the end, but feel free to use the chat, if you have any ideas, ways that you have done employee engagement remotely at your company, go ahead and put those in the chat. We’d love this to be as interactive as possible. And people always ask, this will be recorded and available afterwards.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, this is really a forum to try to promote conversation and discourse around this, and just share some examples of success that organizations have. I’m sure there are experts at employee engagement out there. We’re not necessarily that, but we’ve had our challenges and ways that we’ve tried to tackle those, and we wanted to share them, and any additional content or ideas from the community are appreciated, and I think it will be a great conversation overall.

Adam Devereaux:

So, how are some of the ways we can think about employee engagement? How do we divide it up? Because to be honest, there’s hundreds of companies out there that say “We do employee engagement, we do employee engagement.” But you look at them, and it seems like they’re very different products.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Right, yeah. What I kind of divided this into was, there are four pillars of employee engagement. Connect, that’s going to be mostly around the social aspect, but also the tangible aspects of how do you connect with people? Engage is going to be the second one, and that is all about how an employee engages with the organization as a whole. So, think leadership, communication, all staff communication. How the vision goes. Also, new employee onboarding. These things that we might have had a system for in the past have to be shifted a bit. Some things can stay the same. Some things are going to have a one-to-one map of this is the way it used to look, and this is the way it now looks, and other things are going to need to shift and change a little bit, and hopefully it will be better because of it.

Rebecca Zaagman:

That’s engage, and then we’ve got equip and empower. Equip is going to be around training and knowledge management, and empower is going to be all about how that employee grows in the organization. So, do they have the information that they need? How do they check in with managers? How do managers check in with them? That type of stuff.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Let’s go ahead and start with connect.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah. As you said, this is really on the social side of things, right? In a lot of ways, this is getting to the heart of what we were talking about, of being connected to a team, having … I think it can be a little cliched when every company is like, “We’re a family, everybody’s a family.” But I think for a lot of us, our coworkers are part of our larger family, and certainly our larger friend and relationships that are important to us. And I think a lot of people really feel that when things aren’t going well or they don’t feel connected, right? And not everyone’s wired this way, but I think some people make employment decisions around that.

Adam Devereaux:

There’s a satisfaction, or job satisfaction aspect that really, having the motivation and being able to be there for your teammates, to be able to get help when you need it, or help other people when they need it, is a key thing. But also, just what about not work related soft ties, right? Part of that is because you’re sharing a large chunk of your lives together in a way. So, how do we connect about the things that aren’t just a business problem, and all of the ways in the past that we’ve done that, that really helped cement the fact that we’re working together towards a common goal.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, definitely. And these are things that can be just for fun. We’re talking about really informal things. So, up on the screen here, we’ve got the example of, I think this was a happy hour that we did at the end of the day a few weeks ago, where everyone has their screens on. I think a couple of people might have drinks in their hand. We don’t ask them what they are. But yeah, that’s just fun, right? That’s something that might have …

Adam Devereaux:

Mine was bourbon.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Bourbon. Good to know. Mine was probably a –

Adam Devereaux:

White Claw?

Rebecca Zaagman:

La Croix. No, I was going to … one time I did have a Truly online, but I don’t know if it was this one. So, things like that.

Adam Devereaux:

I think a great example of this would have been on St. Patrick’s Day, Killian, who you may know from a lot of our video content, put on a bagpipe concert, basically. We had a little start of the day St. Patty’s Day kickoff, and serenaded us with some of his really fantastic bagpipe music. And it was just such a fun way to kind of come together as a team.

Adam Devereaux:

And this is when we start talking about the technology and the ways of doing that. Teams is a big, central part of that, right? We could talk about the different aspects of chat, and channel communication, and meetings, but that could be really constrained, when we think about the kind of old school functionality. The impromptu meetings, being able to set something up quick, and people being able to see it in their calendar and jump into it quickly within that common interface.

Adam Devereaux:

But it goes beyond that, because for example, we have an all-company team. So, when we talk about channel communication, that we have a channel in there called social, and that’s where we do a lot of these engagements, and Ashley will be on later, and she’s a big driving force behind that, and can talk more about some of the concepts that we’ve done. But it’s awesome just to be able to have fun. Sometimes it’s just a little distraction, but sometimes people get really competitive. I mean, I used to work in long term care, and bingo was a big deal with those ladies, but it can be with IT guys, too.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Oh, yeah, it does get a little heated, honestly. Sometimes I have to mute that channel if I’m trying to really get some work done. But it’s an awesome brain break for the day. Right on the screen here, you can see just a snippet of our social channel. Things like a March Madness bracket, or birthday shout outs, or some people even post stuff that they’re looking to sell or buy, like, “Hey, does anyone have this, I don’t know, bike that I’m looking for?” We’ve seen things like that. Or, “Hey, I’m going to be headed out to this event, does anybody want to join?”

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah. It’s not heavily moderated, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah.

Adam Devereaux:

People can just put content on there. It can be informal. And I think that bears the question a little bit of why Teams versus email for this? And I think it’s a little bit of what you mentioned, what you said. I can just ignore that channel, or mute that channel. Because we used to have the culture here where there’d be these emails, runaway threads, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Oh my gosh.

Adam Devereaux:

Somebody would send something, and then somebody would make a joke or post a meme on it or something, and suddenly you’d have 50 replies, and your inbox is blowing up.

Rebecca Zaagman:

The dreaded reply all email.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, exactly. And somebody would kind of think, can we take this offline, or can we …

Rebecca Zaagman:

Shout out to Jeremy Miller. I feel like Jeremy might have been the real perpetrator of the reply all.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, that’s … nobody knows at this point, at this point a historical precedent. But the point really is that when we shifted to Teams, and that side of communication with Teams, it really helped clear up email.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. Well, and before Teams, we did have Yammer. So, shout out to Ryan Wenk on that one. He really spearheaded Yammer Time here at Worksighted.

Adam Devereaux:

Our official Yambassador, Ryan. Thanks for all you do.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Up on the screen as well, these are a couple of other things. Ashley will go into this a little bit later, some just really easy ways to engage people in that social channel. Back to what Adam said, it takes a lot of intentionality, a lot of … you need somebody to own it really, so that stuff is happening in there every single week. Right now, we’ve got some ways that different teams are owning an employee engagement thing one time a month, so that you’ve got different people that are coming in with different ideas.

Adam Devereaux:

Right, it doesn’t just have to be all-company, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Right.

Adam Devereaux:

It can be very team-specific. And that’s another thing too, when we look at group chats. I think group chats are another great way, when we look at small teams, or functional teams, just friends. That group chat is that way of kind of having those quickie conversations of kind of the back and forth, and that’s a great conduit for that, mix of the informal and the formal communication.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Definitely. I mean, some of these are just fun, like, hey, happy anniversary to Amanda, or Larry just became a grandpa. How fun is that? National Reading Day.

Adam Devereaux:

If you have a baby, and the baby post will end up in there.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, that is a valid … I think, yeah, once I had my baby, I think it was like day two or something, that baby was in Teams. Another quick tool, not inside of Teams, just to call out is Canva. It’s like kind of a design tool, just online, and some of these ones we gave access from, like our marketing Canva tool to our HR team, and now they can go in and just quickly spin up these nice-looking graphics, like the one that says “attitude gratitude,” that just help bring a little bit more visual fun to it, so it’s not just like another post that you’re looking at. So, just little tiny ways that you can kind of spice up that channel.

Adam Devereaux:

All right, so we talked about the connect side of things, virtual get togethers, games, just ways of bringing fun in. But I think when we talk about communication and making sure that there’s a clear line of visual communication, there’s things that as managers, as leaders, we need to make sure that people are aware of, with this constant noise that the world is. What are some ways that the business can make sure that employees are aware of the things that they need to be aware of?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, definitely. This is something that I think here at Worksighted, we’ve done a couple of different ways, and I think we’re really streamlining it now. I just said to my manager the other day, I feel like I’m so much more in the know now than I ever did in the past, even when we were all in the same building.

Adam Devereaux:

Right.

Rebecca Zaagman:

So, in ways, I think this has forced us to really streamline our communication and figure out what communication needs to go where. Some examples of that are going to be, we used to hold an all staff meeting quarterly. We have together mode in teams. I don’t know if you’ve tried that out, but I know Adam loves it.

Adam Devereaux:

I like it. Yeah, I do like it.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Minecraft, not Mario Kart.

Adam Devereaux:

That’s a Minecraft background.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, Minecraft background. And then, we put an example of just a handout that we used, and the handout was the same when we were in person versus now online, but we do use Microsoft Teams live events for that. And again, having everything in one spot on Teams can be, it helps clear up the clutter for people, I think. Instead of having six different places to look for something, I know that the information I need to find, at least I can access it in Teams, even if it lives somewhere else.

Rebecca Zaagman:

An example of that is going to be, this is our SharePoint site. So, even if an important information, it originally gets out via email or via Teams, we’ll still post it in our SharePoint site. And we use that as basically like an intranet site, if you want to talk about that a little bit? I know that …

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, exactly. This falls under kind of that engage category, right? When we talk about leadership, communication, vision, cross-team collab, new employee onboarding, recognition, and peer recognition. But with Teams and email and texting, and a little of these other tools, having kind of a curated, managed channel where people can get to the content that they need, that they know is like a landing page, as a start … It’s my homepage for the organization.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yep.

Adam Devereaux:

And modern SharePoint is really not old SharePoint, right? It’s a lot easier for a lay person. You still have to know some things about it, but SharePoint online, it’s called modern SharePoint, it’s fantastic. There’s some templates out there, if you Google SharePoint lookbook, L-O-O-K-B-O-O-K, lookbook, they have templates on there that you can deploy right to your tenant. It’s a lot like building a Squarespace page, where you can kind of customize the different content, where it’s located and everything else.

Adam Devereaux:

And now, they have the ability to create that as a home site, so you can create one particular SharePoint site as your home site for the organization, and you can embed that in Teams. Right now, the way to do so is a little bit complicated, and not as … For those of you that use Teams, you can put a SharePoint site as a tab in the channel. But you can actually embed that as an app in Teams.

Adam Devereaux:

And so, if you look at ours, on the left side, you’ve got the calendar and chat and everything else, and right there is, we call it the Wire. And if you click on that, it takes you to kind of our homepage, and that’s where we can make sure that the important communication is available for everyone, and resources, quick links, things that everyone may need to have access to. This an active, ongoing development for us. It’s a lot of work to create knowledge bases and things along those lines, but if you want to centralize and not have eight different places for people to have to go, and we’ll talk about this, too, under the equip side of things, this is a great tool to have that in place.

Adam Devereaux:

And Microsoft did announce the home site app, so within the next quarter or so, it’s going to be easier to get that SharePoint site loaded, if your team doesn’t have it. And you can get to it from Teams on your phone, as well. There’s an app. Again, it’s super easy to just find that amongst your other Teams apps, and get right to that resource.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. I can kind of show you that here back on this screen. If you look on the left-hand side, and I can’t get to my little pointer, but where it says the Wire. So, that links right up into our SharePoint site.

Adam Devereaux:

Yep, exactly.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Another example of that, let me get back to where I was, here, is Mike Harris, our owner and CEO, posts weekly updates. And he does that, he just records it on his iPhone, uploads it to Microsoft stream, posts it in Teams, and then it eventually ends up living on that SharePoint site. So, that’s a way that the Microsoft ecosystem can really work together to provide a really clear way to communicate with the team. So, that’s been awesome. We don’t have to wait or hear it in a newsletter or something like that to get information from our leadership team. It’s fast, it’s quick. He can literally do it, like film it on his back porch, and the company then feels connected.

Adam Devereaux:

It’s a different sort of medium, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah.

Adam Devereaux:

It’s a different way of connecting, and I think for a lot of people … well, I think everyone receives things differently, right? You can put out this great flyer, this pamphlet, and some people might just not read it, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

It’s beautifully designed by the marketing team.

Adam Devereaux:

And you can put out this video, and nobody, or some people won’t watch it, but other people will. It’s about connecting to the different audiences that you have, and I think video can be very engaging. It can be a way of really conveying things in a more compact way. I mean, that’s why we’re here talking to you right now. So, hopefully it’s something that’s working for you. But I think if you look at your larger group that’s within an organization, you kind of have to target people differently. So, this is a great way to be able to get some thoughts out, get some ideas out in a way that can get them across quickly.

Rebecca Zaagman:

We just did a quick poll. It looks like close to 70% of people on the webinar right now do currently have a SharePoint site. So, probably used in different ways.

Adam Devereaux:

70% do not, and 30% do.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Oh, sorry. Thank you. I didn’t see that.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, I think you got that little flip-flopped.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, shoot. Yeah, so that’s interesting. Another thing we wanted to point out in his section, again, we are still in this engaged section, talking about leadership, communication, but also cross-team collaboration. Again, back to intentionality. You have to make time. I can’t just walk by someone’s desk and be like, “Hey, what are you working on?” So, sometimes that looks like just a chat, like reminding myself to reach out to people on different teams to say, “Hey, how are you doing? What’s good in your world? Or what’s your team most excited about right now?”

Rebecca Zaagman:

But other ways we can do that is through this program we use called Bonus.ly. It’s Bonus.ly, if you’re looking for it online. We can put that in the chat, as well. But basically, it’s a micro bonus program. So, if a person, like for example Adam, if you help me out on something, I could just say “thank you,” which I’m sure would feel nice to you, or I can give you so bonus.ly.

Adam Devereaux:

For once, it would be nice.

Rebecca Zaagman:

For once, I know. And so, basically you go online and you can give points which turn into dollars. So, I might say +3 to Adam Devereaux for helping with the latest webinar, and Adam will add those points up, and it can be redeemed for gift cards. Another cool aspect of this is that you can link up your values. So, behind us are our value paintings. And so, you can attach a value to an action, which then reinforces the values across the company.

Adam Devereaux:

Which, if it’s not clear, basically everyone gets an allowance, and then it’s a way to put some substance behind that pure recognition. So, every month that’s refreshed, and they can choose to divvy that out to whoever to recognize their coworkers, to thank for specific things, like in your example. But for us, I mean, that actually we use as our feed into our kind of employee of the month program, that we call artist of the month. And that is a way to kind of have very real data and information on that. Now, it’s not the final decision pulling on that, but I think it is another part of, even going back to connect a little bit, right? Of being able to have some gratitude and thanks, and develop those connections through that. I think it’s really, really important. It’s been huge for us. We’ve been doing that type of, we used to call them fan points, now bonus.ly, and there are other ways you can do praise and recognition inside of teams. There are other platforms, but that one’s worked well for us.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, we like that, and we also have that as a channel in Teams, as well. So, it does integrate, but also, Microsoft has the native apps. Praise.

Adam Devereaux:

Praise, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Praise is one of those that you can do it, and it will post right in your stream. So, even if you don’t want to put some dollars behind it, there’s a way to encourage people to shout out that gratitude from Praise.

Adam Devereaux:

Kind of give people a sticker and say, hey, good job. I recognize you for this.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. It feels a little bit better than just a thank you. Especially when it adds up, you know?

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, exactly.

Rebecca Zaagman:

It’s pretty cool. All right, let’s keep moving, here. Now, we are on to the equip section.

Adam Devereaux:

This is an area I’m pretty fond of. I mean, I think this is, even going back to kind of the original quote up there. This is when we look at, well, onboarding is a big pain point now, too. I mean, I think a lot of organizations have successfully gone remote, but then bringing on new employees have kind of pushed that, right? When you already had existing employees who knew how to do their job going to remote, how do you provide that same sort of connection?

Adam Devereaux:

And really, this is about training resources, right? You’re not going to necessarily have that person as readily available for you to just tap on the shoulder and say, “Hey, can you show me how to do this?” Having something like teams and instant messaging can be a way to reduce the barrier to get help, but it’s more of the structured learning, knowledge management side of learning things, is what we put under the equip. How do you equip somebody to do their job, right? How do you give them the tools and resources they need to be effective, to be confident that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be, that they know how to get answers to questions that they have and do the right thing?

Adam Devereaux:

And I think that there’s basically a couple different worlds here, right? There’s knowledge management, so having a knowledge base, a repository for standard operating procedures, or other items like that, that people need to reference on a frequent basis. So, you have one place, and for us, it’s another SharePoint site. It’s linked back to the Wire. And it’s a lot of work to collect and create that information, but when we talk about learning, I kind of think about it too that there’s structured learning and unstructured learning, within businesses.

Adam Devereaux:

And structured learning is really more of learning management, right? Like you start, here’s these courses that we’d like you to take, here’s these documents that we’d like you to review. And that’s fantastic in a lot of … I think it’s underappreciated how powerful learning management and knowledge management systems can be in an organization.

Adam Devereaux:

But unstructured learning is important as well. It’s just having general learning. Give an example, would be somebody who asked about, “How can I learn more about Outlook?” Or “How can I learn more about Excel?” And they worked for a large organization. I asked, do they have Udemy, or Linda, one of these other platforms, kind of general knowledge platforms that you can use to access, and just get things that are beyond the ABCs of how to do your job, but more of the big picture.

Adam Devereaux:

And Microsoft has some forays into this with Microsoft learning pathways. That’s also on that SharePoint lookbook.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And on the screen right now, actually.

Adam Devereaux:

Yep. So, that’s where you can get access to some Microsoft training content that’s out there. But Udemy, Linda, Bigger Brains, there’s a lot.

Rebecca Zaagman:

LinkedIn Learning.

Adam Devereaux:

LinkedIn Learning, yep. Those are some other great platforms that you as a company, an organization, can subscribe to, and then make it available for your employees to get to that content, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yep.

Adam Devereaux:

And then, that takes us to Viva.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Viva!

Adam Devereaux:

Which always makes me think of like Viva Las Vegas.

Rebecca Zaagman:

I feel like this bird is about to be flat.

Adam Devereaux:

This is the Viva bird. Viva! Viva bird! This bird’s a little wasted, I think.

Rebecca Zaagman:

He needs some water. Yeah, so Viva, we’re excited about that, but first, before we go into Viva, I just wanted to kind of highlight one really tangible way that we’ve started to do this is by creating a knowledge base in SharePoint. We call it the KB, knowledge base, and this is a spot where we can house SOPs, as well as frequently used forms, company links, documents, everything. Yeah, hopefully. We’re still working on it now.

Adam Devereaux:

That’s the starting point.

Rebecca Zaagman:

It’s a work in progress.

Adam Devereaux:

And what’s really cool is the ways that, like with Microsoft 365 and the AI frameworks and bot frameworks you can use to provide easy access to that type of content.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Through Microsoft Viva.

Adam Devereaux:

Or Teams.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Well, Viva will empower teams? Is that how it works?

Adam Devereaux:

You know, I’m not entirely sure. I’m not 100% yet.

Rebecca Zaagman:

One thing we’re going to be saying, there’s a lot to still learn about Microsoft Viva. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s Microsoft’s newest release. It’s a whole brand around, they’re calling it an employee experience platform, an EXP. So, kind of like a CRM might be a client resource … client relationship manager. Similar to that, but it’s going to be employee experience platform, and all accessible through Microsoft teams. So, we’re pretty excited about it. Still to come about what it’s going to look like in the day-to-day, what it looks like for small to medium businesses versus enterprise, but it’s got some really cool functionality that we’re going to just mention today.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Here’s one way that Viva relates to this topic about equipping employees, is something called Viva Topics. And so, it basically uses Ai, and Adam, you can go into this a little bit more, but how I understand it is it uses AI to be able to pull info right inside teams. So, I’m typing a chat, for example, on a new project or something. It will pull in who the subject matter experts are on that project, or link you to articles in a knowledge base, for example, related to what you are already typing in a chat, or typing in a message in Teams. And so, it really brings together that knowledge platform in a way that’s really accessible by employees. So, if you think about a new employee who’s trying to figure out who to go to for something, this is a great tool that’s going to be coming out.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah. I am excited to see how this develops, but really, it shows the beginnings of, or some of you may have experience with things like Microsoft Insights. That’s something that’s available now that’s fairly focused on you, yourself, giving you information about your week, about your time, possible suggestions around things you may have missed, or maybe you need to schedule some break time, thought time, away from things. And really, it’s been interesting. Microsoft has a lot from the Ignite conference, with them really think about employee wellness within this as well, right? They, I think, partnered with Mindspace recently as well.

Rebecca Zaagman:

The Mindspace app, yeah.

Adam Devereaux:

To bring mindfulness content into the employee experience platform as well, into Teams. Saying, now that we’ve created this platform for remote work, and for this kind of impersonal business function, how do we make sure that people are okay, that they’re doing well in this type of environment?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. Which I think is a great segue into our fourth pillar here, which is empower. And that, there is some kind of gray …

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, it overlaps a little bit, right?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Overlap a few things, but this one, we’ve kind of defined as knowing who to go to, being able to figure out how, as an employee, can I grow? How do I know if I’m doing well? And things like goal tracking, one-on-ones with your manager, annual reviews. That kind of falls under this empower category. The insights, like Adam talked about, Microsoft Viva actually has, one of their four parts is Microsoft Insights, and that’s looking at where are you spending your time as an employee? How much is meetings? How much is in focused time? How much are you able to, or how much are you accessing your email or Teams after hours? Because some of this data, especially when used well, can be really powerful, and tell us how your team is doing, beyond just are they getting their to-do list done?

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, exactly. And I think if you look at those lines between work hours and kind of intruding into, I think it’s more blurred than ever for a lot of people. It’s always been a little gray. I kind of miss the days of just punching in and punching out. Not really. But at the same time, there’s that flexibility is awesome, but that just blur between work life and home life, and work time and non-work time. So, those tools are designed to help you manage that separation a little bit more.

Adam Devereaux:

But I think to me, empower is really more about making sure that people are invested in their career, invested in the organization, right? Like, caring enough to not just do their job, but to make improvements, make suggestions, to care about the end results. And this feeds back to satisfaction about the job that they have, and whether or not that’s something that they really are bringing their all to it in a way that works for them and the organization.

Adam Devereaux:

And making sure that there’s a pathway ahead of you, that there’s, in our case, we call it the upgrade plan, right? How can we make sure that everyone understands, what are the opportunities available to them, and what are the steps that they need to take in order to get there? And having resources, and when they’re having frustrating days, making sure that their manager is aware of that, when they are maybe unsure of what their priorities should be.

Adam Devereaux:

And for us, we’ve used a platform called 15Five, and there are a lot of other platforms out there, but this is one that we’ve had a lot of success with, where it can help provide some consistency in scheduling, and insight and visibility into that those conversations are happening, that one-on-ones are happening, that check-ins are happening, and that the organization knows that they kind of have a finger on the pulse of how people are feeling, how people are doing, and knowing that the managers are at least having those conversations as well.

Adam Devereaux:

And so, there’s a couple of different aspects of it. One would be the check-ins, which is just a weekly thing that everyone does, that you can answer some simple questions, like the first one is, how are you feeling? Rate essentially how your week has gone. Your priorities for the last week that you put in, have you been able to get those done? What are some other issues? What are your priorities for the next week? And also, it gives us the ability to ask questions to everyone.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah!

Adam Devereaux:

Which is kind of cool. Sometimes, I think it’s taken us a little bit to really kind of hone in on the good questions, but I think people really appreciate the ability to answer some of those. Examples would be things of what should we recognize, or what is not working right, or what should we do differently, or what’s a process that needs improvement? Things along those lines.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And these are cool ways to connect people. They had one at one point that said, hey, who’s somebody in the company that you think isn’t recognized enough? And so, you could put somebody in there, and then the leadership team went out and emailed every single one of those people and said, “Hey, you were called out.” We’ve also done ones like who’s your favorite Worksighted clients? Or who’s somebody in the company that you’d love to go out to coffee with? And it was virtual coffee. But then, they can connect you, and take away a little bit of that barrier of actually just reaching out, because it can be scary sometimes to reach out to someone and ask of their time, because time’s our most valuable resource. So, 15Five is an awesome tool.

Rebecca Zaagman:

The other way that we use those, use 15Five, is for best self reviews. This is actually new to us. This is our first year of using 15Five in this way, but again, it backs this idea of how do you get data and insight into your employees, but still keep it heavily relational? And so, we’re really enjoyed 15Five from that aspect, as well.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And one other thing I wanted to show right in Teams is the Who app, and I believe this is native in Teams, right?

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah.

Rebecca Zaagman:

You don’t have to download it.

Adam Devereaux:

You do need to make sure that your user properties include information on manager.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Okay, got you.

Adam Devereaux:

Like department and manager, and then the system uses that information intelligently, to essentially create an org chart.

Rebecca Zaagman:

An org chart, yep. So, I just have a quick snip on this screen of an example of our org chart. This one drills down from Mike, our owner, to Barry, our COO, to Jason, our director of managed services, and then some of the managers that report directly to Jason. So, super helpful as a new employee perspective, like who does what, and where do they sit? Might have been a previous question, right? Like where do they physically sit in the building, would tell you what team they’re on. But now that we don’t have that, it helps to understand where people are at in the org, who do they report to, who’s on their team. So, that’s one that’s built right into Teams that you can start using today.

Adam Devereaux:

How are we doing for time, here? I think we’ve talked a lot, and again, those four kind of main areas that we’ve divided that up, connect, engage, equip, empower. Those are just really categories to help explain maybe what different products or efforts or tools can kind of target around that employee experience and employee engagement. But is it time to bring in our special guests?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, I think we should. Ashley and Betsy, if you guys can go ahead and turn on your camera, and turn on your audio. And while you’re doing that, really quick, I’m just excited about Microsoft Viva, you guys, but this is a snip from Insights. Just a crazy way that they can use some of the data that’s just automatically collected throughout Teams. For example, this one was improve team cohesion, and then it actually has action steps that you can take as part of that.

Rebecca Zaagman:

So, all right. We’ve got to put, actually, our headphones in, so that we can hear. This curve goes into your left. All right, Ashley and Betsy, welcome.

Ashley Marsden:

Good morning.

Betsy Drake:

Hello.

Rebecca Zaagman:

A little jealous. I know Ashley is in Florida.

Ashley Marsden:

I am.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And Betsy, hi, thanks for being here.

Betsy Drake:

Hello, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Good. All right, it looks like our audio and video are all working. Ashley, do you want to go ahead and start, introduce yourself, and then you’re going to be sharing a little bit about, sorry, how you have done employee engagement over the past year. I know it’s a really long time, but share a couple of tangible ways that you’ve done employee engagement here at Worksighted.

Ashley Marsden:

Yes. Good morning, everyone. Thanks so much for having me. My name is Ashley Marsden. I am the HR coordinator here at Worksighted. I am in charge of things like recruiting and employee engagement. So, Becca and Adam have done a great job of kind of going through what we’ve been doing for the past year or so. We really had to shift our mindset from having events like chili cook-offs, to being completely virtual.

Ashley Marsden:

So, they mentioned some things that we really try to do, like those brain breaks, so playing bingo through Teams, or posting a would you rather, or something like that. Those are just quick little activities. I try to post 1-2 of those per week. We also do larger events, like happy hours or game nights. We got on and played Among Us a few weeks ago. So, things like that, to kind of get our minds off of things.

Ashley Marsden:

But also, to go in a little bit deeper, in terms of how we’re relating this to work and our teams, we’ve had cross-team collaboration sessions, to first kind of meet people throughout the organization, have those icebreaker questions, but then dig deeper into what our work style looks like, how we can connect together, and then take it even further to see, what kind of problems are we seeing as teams, and how can we take additional steps to have those conversations to start bridging those gaps? That’s kind of more how we’ve related it to our work.

Ashley Marsden:

We’ve also done things like every month, I post kind of a little bio of everyone who has a birthday during that month, so that’s kind of a cool way to make connections throughout the organization. And Adam and Becca mentioned onboarding, which looks completely different for us. So, scheduling those job shadows, making sure that we are intentionally connecting our new hires with almost everyone in the organization, so they can understand kind of how our structure fits together, has been really helpful as well.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Awesome.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah, I’m a big fan of the job shadows. I think that’s a really key way to make sure that new employees are still having the ability to connect with others that are in the organization that they may not interact with on the day-to-day in their position going forward, and it’s so essential to get that broader view of what’s going on in the other departments, other functions. So, I think it’s great. I’m a big fan.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Big fan. Awesome. Thanks, Ashley. And Betsy, how about you?

Betsy Drake:

Hello. Yes, I actually, I’ll introduce myself as well. I’m Betsy Drake, and I am a manager of talent and culture at Lambert. For those of you who don’t know, we are a strategic communications firm that specializes in PR, investor relations, and creative marketing. We have office locations all over the US, and employees all over the US, and oddly enough, it seems that we are more connected now than when we had our office locations, when some people were working from home.

Betsy Drake:

And I’ll just use some examples that we used from Teams. It’s really the way that we’ve been able to stay mostly connected, and really use that as a replacement for just the social atmosphere of being in the office, and I think the nature of our industry and being just social people that really want to connect all the time, it’s been really hard to find ways to do that.

Betsy Drake:

One of the ways that we’ve used Teams is kind of created this production team, or the production table team. In most of our offices, we have what we call production table. It’s kind of the social spot that people will take a little bit of a brain break, or gather and eat lunch, or have those conversations that you just naturally used to run into people. And so, we’ve tried to recreate that through Teams.

Betsy Drake:

And then through there, we have some different channels that we’ve found, and some are hit and miss, and some we have kept. Some of the hot ones were the animal channel. Obviously everyone’s home now, and so sharing pictures of everyone’s pets has been fun.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Oh, yes.

Betsy Drake:

There’s been a parents’ channel, recipes, and then also one that has been really fun for us is a playlist trivia. You earlier mentioned that it really happens, and kind of gives opportunities to people who want to own it, and it’s been cool to see who kind of steps up and wants to recreate something social that they miss from the office. So, this playlist trivia was something fun. Everyone could contribute a song, and then every week, whoever was owning the channel kind of released a trivia question about that person, about the song, and everyone guessed throughout the day what it was and who was the owner. So, that was really fun. That one was a big hit.

Betsy Drake:

And a couple of other ways, from a health and wellness perspective too, we have a certified yoga instructor on staff, so she’s done some virtual yoga sessions with people.

Adam Devereaux:

That’s really cool.

Betsy Drake:

And then, with TerryBerry, we’ve also done the workplace walking challenge, and just got creative with that and tried to make it competitive and collaborative through Teams as well.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Awesome. Yeah, it’s interesting to think about some of the ways that we can incorporate things like wellness. Ashley, do you want to talk a little bit about the zombie challenge that we did?

Ashley Marsden:

Yes. So, we used an app called the Outbreak Challenge, which is actually a program designed for corporate wellness challenges, and the idea is you break everyone up into teams, and then your team has to get enough steps to get away from the zombies. If you don’t get enough steps, your team becomes a zombie, and you’re trying to get everyone else. So, we’ve done that for the past two years, and it’s really been a huge hit. Everyone gets really involved. We have the little group chat breaking out with different teams. We’ll have people doing walking meetings to get their steps in. So, that’s been a really cool way to integrate that physical wellness and engagement as well.

Rebecca Zaagman:

That’s awesome. Well, just a quick plug. If you guys have any questions, I think Ashley and Betsy are both willing to stay online. Any ideas to share, we’d love for this to be super interactive. Go ahead and drop them in either the chat or the Q and A boxes there, and maybe you have a question about one of the tools we mentioned today, or a more specific question about how we’ve handled a problem, or yeah, anything. We’d love to stay on and chat about that.

Adam Devereaux:

Yeah. Thanks, Betsy and Ashley, for joining us. It sounds like, I know last we talked, Betsy, Teams has been really instrumental for you guys to maintain those connections, and I can say from internally for us, Ashley, you’ve done great work, and we really appreciate it. So, that’s a lot of stuff. We talked about a lot, yeah. Hopefully as we go into spring break here, or if you have maybe a little time, some things to think about, is there any good content out there that you recommend for people? Books, or podcasts, or anything along those lines?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Oh, man.

Adam Devereaux:

This is for Betsy and Ashley, as well.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, that’s a good question.

Adam Devereaux:

And I’m just asking on the spot.

Rebecca Zaagman:

I know!

Ashley Marsden:

For me, I’ve found other webinars very helpful. So, HR-focused, but also just employee experience focused. It’s really great to hear what other companies are doing, and especially since we’ve been doing this for a year, it’s really nice to get those fresh ideas, and hear what has worked for other companies. So, I think just being connected with other people in the industry, or people who have the same focus as you, is really helpful, at least in my experience so far.

Adam Devereaux:

All right, well, I think you mentioned too, a podcast you were listening to about it?

Rebecca Zaagman:

Oh, yeah, specifically around Microsoft Viva, we’ve got, I think it was called Intrazone. It’s a Microsoft web … a website. No, a podcast, specifically called Intrazone. You can find it probably on most podcasting sites. But it was really interesting to learn more about Microsoft Viva, and what’s to come there. So, yeah, that’s one.

Rebecca Zaagman:

And on the fun side of things, I just finished watching the Flight Attendants. Have you heard of it?

Adam Devereaux:

No.

Rebecca Zaagman:

It’s on HBO, and very, very fascinating. I’m just very surprised that they can continue to come out with new storylines for TV and movies.

Adam Devereaux:

People are very creative.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Very creative, yeah.

Adam Devereaux:

Absolutely.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Grateful for that. Awesome. Well, I don’t see any questions coming through, so …

Adam Devereaux:

That means we covered it all.

Rebecca Zaagman:

I think we’ve done a great job. So, yeah, I just encourage everyone to continue to think about –

Adam Devereaux:

Or a bad job.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. Just, people are bored. No. Peanut gallery. I would just encourage everyone to continue to think about how you can use technology to empower your people. Technology isn’t the end goal. You can have the best SharePoint site in the world, but if people don’t look at it, if it’s not valuable to them, it’s a waste of time. So, what we love to do here at Worksighted is try to partner with you and help you find the ways to use technology to empower your people to be more efficient, to be happier at work, to be more productive.

Rebecca Zaagman:

One thing that we just worked really hard on is a white paper on Teams as a base of operations, so I will include that in the follow-up emails. It gives really practical ideas and ways that you can continue to move towards using Teams beyond just the chat and meeting functionality, but as a true hub, a one stop shop for your company. So, look for that, as well as the recording, in the follow-up email.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Any last thoughts?

Adam Devereaux:

No, I think that about covers it. It’s a complicated topic, and it’s going to be unique for every organization, what’s right for you. But I’m confident that if you look at these problems creatively, and try to be intentional about what it is that you’re doing to reach out to people, it can make a difference.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, definitely. One more shout out. We do offer Teams training now. We have a dedicated team of trainers here at Worksighted, and they are offering blitz sessions on Microsoft Teams, as well as more in depth training. So, we are continuing to build out our offering for training, but you can go to Worksighted.com/training, I believe. We’ll put the link in the chat. If you’re at all –

Adam Devereaux:

If it doesn’t exist now, it’s going to have to.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah. If you ask for it, we’ll figure it out.

Adam Devereaux:

Let’s get that page going, guys.

Rebecca Zaagman:

Yeah, I know, right? So, yeah, that’s specifically geared towards end users, so it’s a relatively new offering for us, but we’re excited about that, as well.

Adam Devereaux:

Yep, absolutely. Well, thanks everyone, for joining us once again, and we’ll be back again in about a month.

Rebecca Zaagman:

In about a month.

Adam Devereaux:

So, we’ll see you then.

Rebecca Zaagman:

All right, take care, everyone.