Originally posted on the Jive Software website on February 14, 2017.
One of the most recognizable consumer brands in the world, Yahoo is a company that’s undergone continual organizational change over the past several years. The Internet pioneer employees more than 8,000 engineers, web designers, product managers, sales reps, editors, researchers, marketers and other types of employees – spanning a wide range of functions in more than 50 offices and 21 countries.
With such a large, fragmented global organization, Yahoo’s IT and communications teams recognized that they needed an interactive digital solution to support internal collaboration and communications. A few years ago, the company adopted the Jive Interactive Intranet solution, which gave employees a central place to stay connected with each other and with the company overall. As a result, Yahoo has improved strategic alignment and employee engagement, while nurturing a more unified company culture.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Yahoo’s director of communications, Carolyn Clark, and senior manager of collaboration products, Michael De Loia, to talk about how their company’s collaboration hub, called “Backyard,” has increased transparency around employee’s daily work and enabled an internal-first communications strategy.
Jive: If you had to sum up what Jive is to Yahoo in one sentence, what would you say?
Carolyn: At Yahoo, our “Backyard” is powered by Jive. Backyard is where our employees come every day to connect and both get work done, as well as find information about what’s happening at their company. We know that employees are the heart and the voice of Yahoo, and Jive enables us to keep them in the know so they feel more empowered and connected.
Michael: Backyard powered by Jive provides an interactive intranet for our employees; it lowers the barrier-to-entry for Yahoos to contribute and collaborate, increases transparency and efficiency, and makes information more discoverable.
Jive: What are the top benefits Yahoo has experienced using Jive as its Backyard?
Carolyn: With Jive providing the foundation of our interactive intranet, we’re able to execute our “internal-first” mantra and increase strategic alignment across the business. Rather than making the internal audience an afterthought, Jive helps us put employees at the center of all our communications. This pays big dividends when it comes to employee enthusiasm and engagement – two things that tend to fade when organizations go through major transitions.
Jive plays an important role in helping us navigate the inevitable rumor mill and leaks that end up being news sources for our employees. By getting more information out to employees faster, we’re creating a culture in which people know that when they come to Backyard, they’ll get the information they need vs. relying on outside sources that could be inaccurate. We’re posting 15-20 stories a week on everything from corporate updates and announcements to product launches and leadership get-to-knows. Now the majority of our employees visit Backyard daily, and nearly 90% say it is a source of truth for them.
In addition to being a valuable enabler for information dissemination, Jive serves as a collaboration hub that lets Yahoo employees work transparently. This breaks down borders and reduces redundancies as people work more collaboratively across traditionally siloed teams or groups. Many Yahoos have become more open about what they’re working on and about inviting others into projects, which creates a more unified Yahoo culture and a stronger sense of all being on the same team.
Michael: Backyard provides the “glue” to other disparate systems across Yahoo’s intranet via integrations or launching points, and has dramatically increased the amount of user-generated content on our intranet. As we moved away from traditional CMS and wiki platforms, authors were able to readily create work spaces, projects, groups, discussions and the like. This resulted in a dramatic increase in searchable content, vs. having information hidden in documents or email threads. It also increased collaboration across Yahoo, as the platform makes these interactions easy and enjoyable. Jive’s research has found that a “best in class” benchmark for active monthly users is 83%, and Yahoo exceeded that in 2015 and 2016: 85% and 88%, respectively. Another best in class benchmark from Jive is 210 for the monthly engagement index (which measures the number of user page views generated by active members in a given month). After Jive was officially launched as Yahoo’s new Backyard (replacing the legacy CMS), we also surpassed this number, averaging 344 for 2016.
Jive: What types of members utilize your Interactive Intranet, and how does it help them achieve their personal or company goals?
Carolyn: All of Yahoo’s thousands of global employees across our offices in Hong Kong, Toronto, D.C., New York, etc., rely on Jive for accurate information about what’s going on across the company. In addition to featuring “Yahoo in the news” updates, Backyard also helps to engage dispersed employees through a series of regular features with compelling visuals and infographics. For example, employees enjoy several series we post with quick, fun snippets, such as “get to know” regarding interesting leaders, “why yahoo?” on people who recently joined the company, “office spotlights” about various locations, and “five things” on each new product update.
All kinds of departments and groups use Backyard to share information, discussions, documents and feedback in an open, bi-directional way. Cross-functional teams especially appreciate the ability to find and connect with experts from all over the company, ask any questions they have, and get details about what people in different areas throughout the organization are working on. Our executives also use Backyard to encourage input and participation from everyone around the company.
Michael: Jive was initially adopted by our technical community, which makes up roughly half of Yahoo. As we migrated Backyard from a legacy CMS to Jive, it was heavily adopted by all our Yahoos: the People Team (HR), Sales, Marketing, Real Estate & Workplace, and of course Internal Communications, which drives a majority of the content on Backyard’s home page. Yahoo’s employee resource groups and other social and cultural groups are also active Jive users.
Jive: What has Jive's biggest impact been on you, personally? How has it changed the way you work?
Carolyn: Jive has made it easier for my internal communications team to stay in lockstep with our PR team. Thanks to Backyard, we have no impediments to our internal-first strategy, and can quickly get out all of our messaging and announcements to the correct internal audiences before kicking off our external PR tactics. Additionally, through Jive’s analytics, we can determine what stories are resonating with our employees. Having access to this information influences our editorial calendar, and helps us to deliver content we know our employees will connect with.
Michael: As the product manager for Backyard, having our intranet powered by Jive results in spending fewer resources on supporting the intranet, and freeing up time to develop on top of the platform. We have been able to make Jive a uniquely Yahoo property to align with our strong external brand, and implement integrations with other heavily-used systems inside Yahoo, which in turn leads to higher engagement with our employees. Jive has also facilitated increased satisfaction for my stakeholders, as they are able to more easily engage with and serve their audiences.