FedEx made a concerted effort in 2012 to develop a social learning strategy to encourage their employees to share knowledge to drive continuous improvement at the company. The results were better than expected prompting the Great Place to Work Institute to praise the company for “developing social media to…improve communications and manage the company’s reputation internally…”
FedEx (FDX) is a company that has been lauded for being a great place to work by a number of high-profile corporate-performance lists. The company landed on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work” for 2013. The company is ranked eighth in Fortune’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.”
A more interesting fact though is the company’s record of promoting within: More than half of all management has risen through the ranks at FedEx. What is the basis for FedEx’s belief in their employees’ capabilities? Why do employees consistently buck retention trends and stick with FedEx?
The answer to these questions have a lot to do with the fact that the company really prioritizes the “people” part of the FedEx mantra People-Service-Profit. It also has a lot to do with the company’s approach to knowledge capture and knowledge sharing.
FedEx has always experienced challenges related to connecting and communicating across all levels and departments for two reasons: The sheer size of the company (there are 340,000+ FedEx employees globally and the tendency for employees to hoard knowledge rather than share it for a number of reasons but all to the detriment of organizational learning.
FedEx made a concerted effort in 2012 to develop a social learning strategy to encourage people to share knowledge. Social learning centres on knowledge sharing, collaboration and co-creation on a social media platform. FedEx’s “goal is to take a very large company…spread outcrop a global intranet and turn it into a much smaller community with current and useful information.” FedEx had a hunch that the answer involved social media. Widespread acceptance and use of corporate social media platforms – by executive order notwithstanding – is not a solution unto itself.
After a great deal of internal and external consultation, FedEx settled on a social learning strategy executed via a gamified collaborative social platform. The platform is used in combination with well-established Human Resource Management (HRM) practices. For example, FedEx’s HR department trains managers on how to spot positive behaviours. The social media platform maximizes HR efforts by making it easy for managers to not only log incidents in real-time but instantly recognize employees for outstanding performance. One of the channels FedEx uses to recognize employees that is not instant but very engaging is I Am FedEx.
Lessons for Others
FedEx’s employees are motivated, incentivized and rewarded to participate in social learning so effectively that knowledge is, for all intensive purposes, a currency at FedEx.
Social learning is a form of direct participation: FedEX employees voluntarily choose to participate in social exchanges. The exchanges are transactional in nature which reinforces participation. The more employees interact on social media the more committed they become to FedEx.
FedEx has known for some time that there is a close relationship between innovation and employee engagement. Engaged employees perform at a higher level and bring passion and interest to their jobs, which often leads to innovation in the workplace. FedEx has a “very relationship-centric culture of innovation that changes the way the world does business but what it means for us on a daily basis is we’re looking for solutions today that will affect us tomorrow.“
Industry: Integrated Shipping & Logistics
Name of Organization Contact: Frederick Wallace "Fred" Smith
Authored by: Noreen S. Hoskins
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
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