Laying the Groundwork to Engage the New Generation
I’d like to start this series on innovation with what we’ve done here at Arraya Solutions to create a positive working environment that encourages employees to learn, grow and contribute new ideas. This article will explore how Arraya continues to adapt by incorporating social tools and practices that promote more efficient, effective means of communication.
In just over five years from now, millennials will comprise nearly 50 percent of the workforce. The increasing rate at which the 77 million baby boomers are retiring means company dynamics are going to change. As we risk losing the experience in 77 million heads, the ability to store that knowledge in a place that can be accessed later is crucial. Equally important is laying the groundwork now to create an engaging workplace for the future generation.
At Arraya, the culture has always been one of an open, friendly and social environment. This behavior has been consistent across our employees, and this culture is part of the language we speak every day. Even though this is part of our core DNA, Arraya needed to adapt to the same way people were using social tools in their personal lives.
With this in mind, Arraya Solutions has been implementing social platforms – creating virtual and scalable mentoring communities that just aren’t available through traditional training and email. We wanted to save money, onboard quicker, provide transparency, and work more efficiently – and social communication and learning has been the answer. Social tools like SharePoint, Yammer, Lync, and Jabber have provided a familiar learning community for our entry-level employees up to our C-level executives to ask and answer questions in a workplace packed with varying perspectives and insights.
Implementing these social tools has encouraged a new workplace culture of collaboration, innovation, and confidence. Employees aren’t worried about retaining information from a conference or training they attended weeks before. Now, they pull up recent discussion boards. They poll their coworkers for information. They are discovering a more efficient means to collect resources, rather than waste time searching for information – inevitably opening up the framework for collaboration.
“In an environment where our practice directors, team leads, and engineers are often working remotely, Yammer allows me to pick their brains when I have customer or technical specific questions. They are able to help me find resources and provide feedback that is valuable to customers quickly and easily. This has allowed me to quickly integrate into the Arraya team,” says Arraya Solutions Account Executive, Jackie Mariani.
Within two weeks of implementation, over 85% of Arraya staff stated that the collaboration through Yammer was already saving them time finding answers and allowing them to work more efficiently. Employees are encouraging their coworkers to join the network, excited by the idea that, the more people that utilize Yammer, the more value it presents. Giving our users these tools has also provided them with the same look and feel as if they were communicating through their own social networking applications. This brings a familiarity to a distributed corporate environment, allowing employees to feel more comfortable.
Utilizing social networking for group discussions and access to coworkers’ expertise has allowed Arraya to scale down on formal trainings and cumbersome processes. Emailing has already decreased by nearly 20% company-wide, while productivity continues to soar. “We have very distributed and remote teams at Arraya. I rarely see the people I work directly with, but we constantly interact and collaborate over Yammer. It brings an ‘in the office’ feel to people that aren’t actually in the office,” says Arraya’s Microsoft Solutions Team Lead, Mark Marra.
By centralizing information, engineers are more knowledgeable in areas outside their specialties. Just by browsing through their newsfeed and reading others’ posts, they are providing additional, highly customized solutions while on client sites, quickly making Arraya a one-stop shop. And with so many outlets for information, new hires are getting up-to-speed and out in the field quicker, bringing value to the company faster than ever.
Having the management team interact through these same mediums has created transparency that our employees haven’t witnessed at other companies. They value feeling involved, because they are involved. And they get to see this everyday through social tools like Yammer.
Reports show that well over half (66 percent) of today’s global workforce is not highly engaged in their work. Arraya is breaking the trend. We are setting the new generation up for success by using the methods they embrace. Nearly all 18-24 year olds (98 percent) already use social media. These are the workers who, in the next 5 years, are going to make up half of all organizations.
Arraya’s commitment to the adoption of social platforms has led to an increase in innovation through the openness of our work and social environment. What this means to Arraya and our customers is an increase in productivity and transparency, as well as customer and employee satisfaction. At the same time, it’s decreasing the time, cost, and effort necessary to onboard employees, manage internal processes, support our customers, and deliver world class IT services in a highly competitive marketplace.