Bringing Employees Together for a Better World
Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, we have provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. We currently work in nearly 25 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become self-reliant.
With a diverse group of more than 1,100 employees, including about 800 who work remotely and internationally, connecting a global team this size can be a challenge. Each of us must be equipped with the right tools to communicate well as we work together to accomplish our goals.
One of those goals is to shape a collaborative, innovative, and engaging culture—regardless of geography.
Moving off the Intranet Graveyard
A root cause of one of our internal communication challenges was that we had outgrown our previous intranet and its capacity. Over the years, the intranet slowly became a content graveyard. Despite volumes of content, employees often could not find information when they needed it most. The aging intranet did not integrate with other systems, nor did it include translation. With hundreds of global employees, these features mattered.
We imagined a platform to help employees gain a sense of inclusion, so their voices could be shared. Our hope was to create a place for employees to have conversations with each other—and with leadership.
We knew a great communication tool could help us evolve together. So, switching our outdated intranet to Igloo was a good step forward.
The Corral: An Ideal Metaphor for the Modern Era
In searching for a new intranet software, we knew we wanted it to do more than house documents and high-level messages. Our goal was to find a software that captured the spirit of social media channels to give employees a global platform for internal news and open conversation. With the hope of building connections and trust through our digital workplace, our dream was to offer more opportunities for inclusion than ever before. With these ideas in mind, Igloo became the foundation for a bold change within Heifer. We aimed to clean up content, to improve access and to increase the search capacity, as well as to provide fresh, integrated content in real time.
Prior to launch, we held a contest for employees to name our new Igloo intranet. "The Corral" was quickly selected as the winner as it reflects our farmer-focused work and is a perfect metaphor for what we wanted to accomplish by choosing Igloo.
After developing the initial site design, we began incorporating various ways to help employees engage, regardless of location, making each method as inclusive as possible so we expand opportunities for engagement as much as possible. Since our employees work in large cities and remote communities around the globe, we make it a priority to post content in English, Spanish, and French.
For example, we launched a social space called “The Buzz” where employees can post quick, fun notes to others. The space is also home to our “Bee-lievers” blog where we feature colleagues from every position to learn more about them and the work they do. We saw incredible results in this space during our 2018 internal women's empowerment initiative. Originally scheduled to run from International Women's Day on March 8 to Mother's Day on May 14, we extended the initiative through mid-June due to the overwhelming response we received from employees nominating peers. The initiative is an ideal example of the major gains we've made in advancing employee engagement.
Our Human Resources team is another strong example. They keep our workforce updated with a weekly blog post listing the latest new hires, supervisor changes, title changes, and departures. They also publish a monthly blog post on the first of each month celebrating work anniversaries. Colleagues offer well-wishes accompanied by celebratory GIFs or videos.
The Corral was a launching point for an employee challenge connected to our endurance program Team Heifer in early 2018. Teams competed by raising funds, volunteering and racing in the Little Rock Marathon, all using the intranet as the starting line. We set up a rules page, a leaderboard, and used a microblog for an online auction, which each team used in its quest to be named the winners.
Igloo’s polling tool is handy for giving employees the opportunity to vote on what movies they want to watch for our Summer Movie Day events. It’s inspired employees outside our Internal Communications team to host other social events including Meditation Mondays, Lunchtime Yoga on Wednesdays, and Backgammon Fridays. The Corral is essential for sharing and coordinating these activities that transformed digital contacts to in-person connections.
To better connect employees with each other, we created an online Think Tank as a safe space for employees to share ideas, dialogue, give advice, listen, and learn from one another. This is a globally connected conversation about the people, places, and things that influence our daily lives at headquarters and around the world.
We also created a leadership space to connect employees to leaders and to give leaders a place for greater visibility and transparency in top-level decisions and information. The blog contains need-to-know news from leaders; the microblog highlights moments from Board meetings when in session; the forum gives employees a place to submit questions and ideas; and a page highlights our strategic journey timeline, key milestones, and Town Hall archives.
Our digital workplace combined with our employee engagement initiatives allow everyone to speak more confidently about our mission and share the vision of where our organization is going.
Small Changes Lead to Big Results
Since deploying Igloo, content consumption and engagement with the content have increased and continue to grow. We’ve seen our consumers, members who viewed content, increase 11 percent; and contributors, members who liked, rated, or commented on content, increased 5.8 percent. Heifer’s philosophy applies here: We believe small changes lead to big results.
We know it’s critical to prepare for future growth. One of our goals is for our intranet to be as useful and valuable five years from now as it is today. Using multiple Igloo solutions helps us work proactively in the knowledge management of our content.
Heifer International is fortunate to have incredibly talented employees. We want to provide each person the best possible service by equipping and empowering them with the information they need while fostering online and in-person connections. We are in a better position now to tackle our biggest challenges. I know everyone here is glad to be part of a community where we can evolve together.