People First: Barb Burns, VP Org Excellence & Development, WSPS
We’re tracking down TemboSocial users inside the world’s most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, inspirations, pet peeves and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome. This month, we chatted with Barb Burns - VP Organizational Excellence and Development at Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, a dynamic $43-million organization that offers unparalleled health & safety expertise, insight and solutions for creating healthy work environments across Ontario, Canada. In March of 2015 they deployed TemboSocial Recognition, branded as “Applause” on their SharePoint intranet.
Before amalgamation, WSPS consisted of three separate health and safety associations: Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA), Ontario Service Safety Alliance (OSSA) and Farm Safety Association (FSA). How difficult was the merger on the workforce?
Well, the merger was quite difficult for the organization as one might imagine. It took quite a bit of time to get the mechanics sorted out. But we recognized early on that we needed to pay attention to the people side if this was going to be successful.
Throughout the process we worked on how to bring the cultures together and we’ve been pretty successful. Nobody expected it to happen overnight but we’ve been able to get WSPS to the point where it feels like one cohesive organization.
How important was employee recognition in bringing the cultures together?
We started off with a philosophy that we would not take any one program from previous organizations, but would create new programs. Based on engagement survey results, recognition was very high up on the list of things that employees felt we weren’t doing very well after the merger.
Two of the three partners had peer recognition programs in place before we came together, based on pen and paper handwritten notes. After exploring all kinds of options we settled on TemboSocial Recognition because it was electronic—and would be accessible to our offsite workers—and because it could be integrated into our SharePoint intranet site.
How successful was TemboSocial Recognition when you launched?
People took to it like ducks take to water. We didn’t have to train people how to use the system, they simply understood it.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for me was the way some of our more seasoned employees adopted the system. Previously, many of these individuals hadn't been making full use of the SharePoint intranet. I thought this lack of adoption would carry over to our Applause program but it didn’t.
Instead we’re seeing people check in with Applause first thing in the morning and this is helping them to use the SharePoint system more as well. TemboSocial is also helping to enhance communication between our head and home office based staff members. Through the stories they are reading and contributing to in Applause they are becoming more connected with the business as a whole.
Have you seen any other benefits from using TemboSocial Recognition?
What’s surprised me most is that participation in the Applause program hasn’t dropped off after the initial launch. If anything it has picked up. People check in first thing in the morning and look for their Ovations. It’s becoming an important source of news about the organization.
I am constantly hearing from people who are learning new things about the organization and the programs we are involved in. “Wow,” they say, “I didn’t know we did that.” We are also seeing that our employees are using Applause as a way to talk about their projects, key milestones and targets they’ve hit. Overall it’s become a very important way for employees to see what’s going on inside WSPS. I’m very pleased with the way it’s all working out.
Read the Case Study on how WSPS engaged their office and remote employees after a merger of three well-established organizations using TemboSocial Recognition.