What makes up the framework of an organization is the diverse set of employees which holds it together. However, this framework may be significantly weakened if it is not maintained through proper communication between all employees which ultimately affects their own involvement within the organization. Thus, it is also important to consider, whether in the work place or everyday life, how modes of communication are not static, but in flux. From the telephone to the internet, technology continues to transform the dominant ways in which we relay information to one another within the workplace.
However, keeping up with the times and adapting to the current, rapidly evolving social media landscape may pose a struggle to organizations that were not born in the current social media era. One organization that is fighting against the odds and keeping up with the times is Dutch airline company KLM. Despite, KLM being the oldest scheduled airline in the world still operating under its original name, the company has successfully integrated a social media strategy internally within their organization to increase levels of employee involvement.
KLM has managed to increase the flexibility of interaction and communication among its employees, specifically within the sector of Inflight services. Director of Communications for Inflight services, Simone Louwers, was the person who took charge and implemented Microsoft’s “private social networking tool” Yammer in 2016, as a strategy to increase levels of employee empowerment within KLM. The integration of Yammer proved to be extremely helpful for the organization as the social media service finally opened a door for KLM’s 9,300 inflight service employees to communicate and collaborate with one another, which would simply not have been possible without the help of social media technology. Thus, with this new-found ability to communicate with one another via Yammer, employees quickly began to maximize their own performance and creativity.
As Sharma & Bhavnagar argued, social media is a strategic tool for employee engagement as it empowers employees to:
* connect to diverse people across the organization expanding their social network;
* share and disseminate new ideas and solutions for existing problems;
* quickly resolve problems because everyone on the network knows “who knows what”
* access a large diverse group for participative decision making
As mentioned, Yammer ultimately created a space where a diverse set of employees could share their experience. In turn, this specific function proved to increase the efficiency of the company because once workers could share their experiences on Yammer, it allowed for a learning experience to commence for all Inflight service employees. For example, one Inflight staff member posited their own original idea and an image on the Yammer platform to demonstrate how Inflight staff members across KLM could reduce waste through a specific technique of folding sandwich boxes. In turn, as soon as the innovative post popped up on the management team’s newsfeed within Yammer, they swiftly implemented it as a new standard procedure.
As this example proves, Yammer permits employees to become involved within the organization that they belong to. Furthermore, if this employee had not been able to post his creative idea in Yammer, where all Inflight service employees could quickly engage with the concept, it may have never been able to garner the attention from the higher positions of management. Speaking of higher positions, another beneficial aspect that has come along with the implementation of Yammer is the way that the social media app works to overcome, as Sharma & Bhavnagar explain, “hierarchical boundaries and power dynamics in internal communications.” In other words, Yammer helped to break down the invisible barriers that existed between employees working in different divisions of Inflight services (i.e. back office staff vs cabin crew members). As Louwers explains, Yammer has worked to reinforce the concept that managerial staff’s opinions are not the only ones that matter, and that the cabin crew’s voices are also extreamley important and valuable when it comes to KLM as a business. In sum, Yammer has worked to foster a unified culture among its thousands of employees through enabling them to be involved with one another.
Lessons for Others
The lessons that KLM has taught, in relation to employee involvement though Yammer, is that internal social media tools provide organizations with a way to fill a void that employees often experience in trying to participate within their organization amongst thousands of other employees. As evidenced, Yammer helps to eliminate the feeling employees may experience as being “just another number” in KLM’s organization. Instead, Yammer allows for a space where employees may not only learn from one another, but reinforce the concept that every employee’s participation counts and matters within the organization. As previously mentioned, it requires a diverse set of employees to build the strong framework an organization needs to succeed. In this case, Yammer proved to be the foundation that held KLM’s framework together and provides a way to ensure that KLM continues to be one of the most effective and well respected airlines globally.
** A member of the organization was contacted, but declined to comment.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Industry: Airline Industry
Name of Organization Contact: Simone Louwers, Director of Communications for Inflight Services
Authored by: Danielle Brubaker
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KLM. (2018). Company Profile. About KLM. Retrieved from https://www.klm.com/corporate/en/about-klm/profile/index.html
Louwers, S. (2016). Employee Engagement Reaches New Heights as Crew Share Expertise on Enterprise Social Platform. Microsoft. Retrieved from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2016/01/13/employee-engagement-at-klm-reaches-new-heights-as-crew-share-expertise-on-enterprise-social-platform/
Sharma, A., & Bhatnagar, J. (2016). Enterprise social media at work: Web-based solutions for employee engagement. Human Resource Management International Digest, 24(7), 16-19. Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/1826809706?accountid=15090