CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

IS YOUR WORKPLACE READY?
Eight Important Lessons for Launching Workplace by Facebook
With the global launch of Facebook’s new enterprise platform, Workplace, organizations are asking: “Can this
replace our aging intranet?” “Will employees collaborate or share weekend shenanigans?” And, of course,
“could this finally be the end of the dreaded ‘reply all’ email?”
There’s no one right answer, of course, and every company needs to access its readiness individually. At
Edelman, we have been beta testing Workplace since earlier this year. Now more than 80 percent of our
employees, including CEO Richard Edelman, actively use the platform. More than 700 groups have been
established across our global network and feedback from the pilot has been positive.
We’ve learned a lot along the way, and we aren’t done. Based on our experience, here are eight takeaways
for organizations to consider when launching Workplace:

1. Start at the end.
The end goal, that is. Edelman launched Workplace to
solve a specific problem: to unlock the knowledge that
is all too often trapped in individual email inboxes. Who
hasn’t gotten that shot-in-the-dark plea with “does
anyone know where I go to find X” in the subject line?
We set out to more readily surface expertise across the
firm and bring our best collective thinking to clients.
Of course, there are many other benefits – from
reducing email clutter to fostering camaraderie and
interactions with leaderships – but we started by first
identifying a challenge to our business and positioning
Workplace as a potential solution. That framing was
critical to gaining leadership’s support for Workplace.

2. Influence the influencers.
We first trialed Workplace during an annual planning
meeting with 100 of the firm’s top leaders. This was after
aligning IT, Internal Communications, Marketing and
enlisting guidance from Edelman’s client-facing
Employee Engagement and Digital teams.
We then identified more than 100 highly networked
employees with a high degree of influence within
Edelman. These colleagues are often the ones
responding to those “where do I go for this?” missives.

We trained these employees to be our champions for
Workplace, since others naturally seek them out. We
also assigned dedicated community managers for
each group created. These internal influencers help
source, create and moderate content on an
ongoing basis.

3. Describe versus prescribe.
While we laid out clear intentions and goals for
various types of groups, each community has the
freedom to use their space in a way that amplifies
what they’re already doing. The 700+ groups set up
since launch range from collaboration spaces for
account teams to special interest groups who swap
everything from local concert tickets to writing tips.

4. Focus on
transformation.

cultural,

not

technical,

Since Workplace looks and feels like Facebook, our
employees didn’t need much technical training.
Instead, we focused on priming our culture for
adoption in three key ways:
First, we armed community managers with content
well before launching their groups and readied
senior leaders – from our CEO down – to use
Workplace for communication.

© 2016 Edelman

Second, we offered guidance on when to use
Workplace versus email. We encourage employees
to use Workplace to invite others to interact with
content, especially to solicit feedback and
suggestions. We recommend email for urgent, highpriority messages that convey information instead of
starting a conversation.

7. Empower teams with local autonomy.

Lastly, we kept it up past Day 1. Teams that received
repeated, small group demonstrations and coaching
have been more successful in adopting Workplace
than those left to figure it out on their own.

8. Finally, keep it up.

5. Your news engine is hungry. Feed it.
A restaurant with a sparkling exterior will fail if there’s
nothing on the menu. Similarly, a platform is only as
good as its content. Your internal communications
must command attention to cut through the clutter
of external news and social chatter. Will employees
click on your content or the personality quiz in their
external social feed?
We developed a pre-launch content strategy for
Workplace and approached it with the editorial
discipline of a newsroom to deliver compelling
content that invites interaction.
For example, we know from employee feedback
that our people take particular pride in hearing
about our client work, even if they weren’t directly
involved. We launched a #makemeproud campaign
with the simple goal of encouraging employees to
share client work that makes them proud. Teams
have shared videos documenting everything from
raising awareness of blood cancer in EMEA to
championing diversity in Vancouver. It’s been great
for employee pride and for our business, as account
teams are tapping into expertise not just on the other
side of the cubicle, but on the other side of the
world. As one Workplace user put it, “I’ve learned
more in 1.5 weeks about what Edelman actually
does than in 2 years of working here.”

6. Lead through your leaders.
We are experimenting with Live Video as an
alternative to webcasts and a venue for executives
to talk about key issues and trends with employees.
We recently celebrated our 64th Founder’s Day with
CEO Richard Edelman talking about the firm’s family
heritage and his parents’ role in in shaping our
company.
Certainly, it’s important for leaders to actively
engage on Workplace, but what they don’t do sends
an equally strong message. We are encouraging
managers to move from sharing news via email
distribution lists to Workplace, which is an important
cultural shift.

Each office within Edelman’s global network has its
own unique strategy for Workplace that reflect local
market, culture and team dynamics. Locations had the
autonomy to stage their own launch events, while still
tapping into globally available content.

A splashy initial launch will fade once the novelty wears
off.
Maximizing
employee
engagement
with
Workplace requires continuous content planning,
leadership engagement, advocacy by internal
champions, training refreshers and ongoing change
management to reinforce key behaviors.
As you consider whether Workplace is right for your
organization, ask yourself:

Do you have a solid use case or business problem
that collaboration can help solve?

Is your culture ready for greater transparency?

Are leaders prepared for employees to have
greater and more direct access to them, using
channels other than email?

Can you identify influential employees to serve as
in-the-trenches champions?

Do you have a content and channel strategy for
reaching your various employee groups that
Workplace will complement?

Can you commit to stocking your internal news
pipeline with engaging content on an ongoing
basis?

These are all questions we asked ourselves and help
our clients plan for as well. With a thoughtful launch
strategy, continuous content development and an
engaged army of advocates, Workplace can be a
powerful tool for connecting your employees and
putting collaboration to work.

About Us
Edelman is a Workplace Partner with Facebook and
helps organizations engage their employees in
Workplace. We help clients design launch campaigns,
engage internal champions, create content that
commands attention and identify opportunities for
leaders to build stronger connections with employees.
Beyond Workplace, our Employee Engagement team
helps companies accelerate business performance,
delivered by highly engaged and trusted employees.
For more information, visit us at ee.edelman.com or
follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE.

© 2016 Edelman