How do you unite a rapidly growing company that has offices all over the world? How do you integrate the work of employees in disciplines that range from architecture to geomatics to wastewater engineering? How do you inspire people who’ve come to your organization through acquisition to buy into your vision?
These were some of the challenges facing Stantec in 2011. In consultation with employees, Stantec built a new strategic framework around the concept of community and launched it in 2013.
“We have evolved our brand to better reflect who we are and what our clients and employees believe about us,” says Stantec president and chief executive officer, Bob Gomes in a news release.
“Our new positioning—focusing on community, creativity, and client relationships—differentiates us in our many market sectors. At Stantec, we design with community in mind: we help our clients meet the needs of the communities we collectively serve.”
Four years later, that concept of community pervades all areas of the organization, on its website, in its employee publications and its marketing materials. And social media plays an important role in bringing the strategy to life. Here are three examples of how Stantec uses social networking and collaborative tools to build a sense of community across disciplines and time zones.
Helping employees to collaborate
Sometimes referred to as “Facebook for business”, Yammer is Microsoft’s enterprise social networking platform. It allows users to collaborate easily with others within the organization. Used extensively at MWH, a Denver-based company acquired by Stantec in 2016, its use is now growing within the larger company.
“We use Yammer for knowledge sharing between expert groups,” says Social Media Specialist Allison Saer. “Practitioners will share ideas or content like published articles or tradeshow slide decks.”
Business development is another key activity on Yammers, notes Marketing Specialist Courtney Coobs.
“We use Yammer when we’re responding to RFPs (requests for proposal). If a project lead in Ontario needs to find, for example, a structural engineer in Surrey, BC with specific expertise, they’ll post on Yammer and someone will respond.”
While business is Yammer’s primary focus, personal passions do have a place as well, with groups focused on cooking, photography and other interests.
With offices on nearly every continent, Stantec’s use of Yammer provides a channel for communication and connection that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
“Another great aspect of Yammer is that all employees are invited to participaten,” Allison adds. “No matter what language they speak, career level or role at Stantec”
“It’s a way to network with people you’ll probably never meet in person.”
Helping employees to celebrate
Not only does Stantec allow employees to use social media, the company actively encourages them to share “interesting information that pertains to your work and that will improve knowledge or skills.”
To ensure professionalism and effectiveness, the company offers training and guidance to empower interested employees to become Social Media Ambassadors. Allison Saer runs a group on Yammer for these Ambassadors, where they can share content and learn best practices.
“So instead of a group asking Public Relations to post about an activity in Ottawa, we can say ‘why don’t you post it and here’s how,'” Allison says.
As a way to increase the reach of employees’ posts, the company suggests specific hash tags, including #StantecProud, that individuals can use when recognizing individual and team achievements, whether it’s participating in community service, earning certification, or marking important professional milestones.
Empowering employees to celebrate their own achievements and those of their colleagues and teams goes a long way in boosting pride and engagement and contributes to the sense of community Stantec strives to foster. And it allows the company to demonstrate its values through the experiences of its employees.
Helping employees to serve
Research shows that corporate volunteering boosts business productivity, employee retention and even creativity. And in a company based on community, volunteering just makes sense.
That’s why, when Stantec launched its rebranding it also launched a volunteering campaign, Stantec in the Community Day.
A day of worldwide community service across the Company, Stantec in the Community Day events highlight the local initiatives we are passionate about and the causes we support.
Each year, Stantec employees around the world participate in a company-wide day of community service, doing everything from providing meals at local shelters, to clearing invasive plant species from trails, to grooming horses at a therapeutic riding program.
This year, in honour of the event’s fifth anniversary, the company devoted an entire week to community-building volunteerism. And, as Allison notes, “Stantec’s Social Media Ambassadors played a big role this year through posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We also held Facebook Live events in Dubai, New York and other communities.”
“By providing a consistent message and volunteer opportunities, everyone can be an equal participant and make a difference in the community that he or she chooses. From young professionals to support staff, they can all be recognized with activities like this.”
Social media contributes to employee volunteerism in a number of ways. It helps spread awareness about volunteer opportunities that can increase employee involvement, it allows employees to promote causes they care about, and it’s an easy and effective way to share the positive impact of their activities. And unlike other engagement activities, it can be measured.
“[During the 2015 Community Day,] many employees and partners also took the time to share their volunteer experiences by posting their photos, accomplishments, and pride on social media. Thanks to those efforts, our hashtag, #StantecintheCommunity, was a trending topic on Twitter in several cities and accumulated nearly 1,500 tweets and retweets.” Celebrating community in 2015 and beyond (December 18, 2015)
Lessons for Others
Here’s what we can learn from Stantec:
- Use themes for a consistent message. Stantec’s community theme provides a framework to build social media content.
- Make it easy for employees to participate. Stantec provides training and guidelines so that employees can express themselves through social media professionally and effectively.
- Celebrate diversity and value individuals. Stantec’s social media channels focus on telling the company’s story through employees’ personal experiences.
Industry: Architectural, engineering, and environmental design and consulting
Name of Organization Contact: Courtney Coobs, Raylene MacLeod, Allison Sahr, Jennifer Young
Authored by: Beth Bohnert
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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