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Humana Employees Buzz’d Over Enterprise Social Network

A Case Study for Enterprise Social Network (ESN)

Guest: Jeff K Ross, Community Manager, Buzz at Humana

Co-Host and Sponsor: Badi Azad, Sr. Product Manager, Socialcast

Humana, a 50,000 plus employee organization has implemented an enterprise social network (ESN) to streamline communication and collaboration. They call this ESN Buzz. Jeff Ross has been Community Manager at Humana since 2010. He is part of the enterprise social media team where, as Community Manager he is the Chief Advocate and “Enforcer” for Buzz.

ESN Background at Humana

Buzz Home PageIn 2008 Humana began their discussion about an ESN. Humana’s internal Chamber of Commerce team studied outside trends to explore the potential for an ESN for internal use. Since social media was growing rapidly, Humana decided to test an ESN to improve collaboration and communication. During 2009 they evaluated platforms, selecting Socialcast as the platform for their ESN. Buzz was officially launched in 2010.

Internal ESN Champions

There was a cross section of stakeholders, driven initially by the Innovation Team within IT, and supported by HR as well as other early adopters who embraced the ESN rapidly.

Employees use Buzz for many reasons, many of which were not anticipated. People use Buzz to post questions on any topic. Leaders use Buzz to host town hall events where they capture Q&A. Buzz is embedded in Humana’s intranet so it’s available naturally while they’re doing their work without the need to access Buzz separately. One welcome surprise is how many conversations on Buzz are about health and wellness, which of course is the very definition of Humana. Such conversation serves to reinforce Humana’s culture enterprise wide.

ESN Business Results

Jeff points out that the initial and primary objective behind Buzz was to achieve business goals through streamlined employee communication and collaboration across its geographically distributed employee population. In addition to accomplishing this goal the positive relationships established through engagement on Buzz have also enabled Humana’s culture to be experienced enterprise wide. In some ways, Buzz provides a “water cooler conversation” experience across the enterprise. Other benefits include breaking away from long and time wasting email chains. Buzz also allows new employees to engage rapidly, and accelerate their on-boarding and integration into the company culture. Buzz is also used a lot for ideation to increase efficiencies.

Measuring the ROI of an ESN

Socialcast has an eye opening e-book available for download: A People Centric Approach to Measuring the ROI of an Enterprise Social Network. This e-book answers the question “how do you measure the ROI of an ESN?”

Integrated Buzz Implementation

Humana’s Buzz is integrated deeply into the employee experience in their natural workflow. Buzz is not just a separate destination. Rather, Buzz is a part of the intranet landing page, and has over 200 Sharepoint sites and other internal destinations that integrate Buzz in enterprise systems.

Humana CEO Involvement With Buzz

Bruce Broussard PostsHumana, CEO, Bruce Broussard has actively supported Buzz from the beginning. He is an avid Buzz user who shares his own pursuits of health and wellness by posting pictures of his triathlon events and sharing his stories about these events, which helps to humanize him with all employees. Also on an ongoing basis, he has a monthly leader call where he uses Buzz to capture the narrative of those calls. After each quarterly earnings call with the financial community, he holds an internal call with employees by using Buzz to likewise enable open participation where employees can ask questions pertaining to the quarterly results he presented to the financial community. Bruce Broussard has stated that while it’s difficult to quantify the exact dollars returned to Humana through Buzz, having 50,000 people moving in the same direction together with efficient communication and collaboration is very productive.

Advice for Those Considering an ESN

Jeff’s advice to anyone considering an ESN starts with where they were back in 2009. The team had questioned the value of an ESN at that time. Today, in 2014 an ESN is “an expected form of communication in an enterprise” for thousands of employees. Many employees expect this form of communication. Jeff advises evaluators to research case studies to learn from their experiences, as those reported in the following e-book.

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