Introduction

This research was conducted across 25 companies that varied in size from 5 to over 200,000 employees with the goal of understanding if and how the use of Yammer: affects learning and ultimately impacts performance, and helps create communities of practice. More specifically, the hypothesis was that through the use of sharing work activity updates and questions, colleagues would gain a lot more insight into what each other is working on, what tasks they are focused on in a given timeframe, and would inspire coworkers to reach out to each other to provide assistance.

Discussion of Results

Research question 1: Does using a microblog in the workplace allow employees to become more aware of what each other is doing?

The original hypothesis was that people primarily use Yammer to ask questions and answer the question: What are you working on? The answers would reveal peoples’ work activities. Why is it important to uncover if employees’ work activities are uncovered through the use of Yammer? Because skills are acquired through continuous authentic activity in authentic contexts and by communicating with peers and experts about those activities in those contexts (Herrington & Oliver, 1995) The first step is to understanding if people are acquiring new skills is to understand what people are doing, or their work activities, can be revealed through Yammer. Once people know what the other is working on they can join forces and learn from each other and help each other. Researchers agree that knowledge is the result of collaborative construction in a situated cognition environment (Ahmad, 2009; Bransford, et al., 1990).

However, the study uncovered that work activity updates and questions are just some of the many ways that participants use Yammer (see Table 30). As we can observe, the top ways that Yammer is used (top meaning 50% or more participants said they use the tool in this manner) are for:

  1. Asking and answering questions, 84% (21) of participants responded this way.
  2. Posting interesting information such as news, articles and event, 80% (20) of participants responded this way. This category is defined as information that does not have a direct impact on a person’s day-to-day tasks, unlike the how to’s of the knowledge category.
  3. Updating people on their work activities, 68% (17) of participants responded this way.
  4. Posting knowledge in the form of tips, best practices and tools, 52% (13) of participants responded this way. This category is defined as containing all the types of information that can help people with their day-to-day activities on the job.
Table 30: Yammer Experiences Mentioned by Participants, What people read   about and post Frequency Percent Value*
1. QUESTIONS AND   ANSWERS 21 84% 5
2. INTERESTING   INFORMATION (news, articles, events) 20 80% 5
3. WORK ACTIVITIES 17 68% 5
3.1. what a person/team is working on 16 64% 5
3.2. meeting updates, follow ups 3 12% 3
4. KNOWLEDGE (tips,   best practices) 13 52% 5
5. OPINIONS 11 44% 4
5.1. feedback on products and services 4 16% 5
5.2. complaints 4 16% 3,5
5.3. praise for a job well done 3 12% 4
6. REPORTS during a   real-time event 6 24% 5
7. LOCATIONS 3 12% 5
8. NON-WORK-RELATED INFORMATION 3 12% 5
8.1. personal information 2 8% 5
8.2. jokes 1 4% 4
9. YAM JAM threads,   live chats 2 8% 4
10. INTERESTS, opportunities people are seeking 1 4% 4
* The most frequent (mode) value   participants assigned to each type of experience: 1=not at all, 2=not very   much, 3=somewhat, 4=very much, 5=extremely
Bold=Good and typical experiences, Not Bold=Good but not typical   experiences, Italics=Bad experiences
Note: There weren’t any typical   experiences that weren’t also good experiences, in other words, all typical   experiences were also good experiences

The study uncovered that, of the top uses, only work activity updates consistently uncover what people are working on, as stated by 68% (17) of participants. The study confirmed that questions also have a tendency to uncover status because 84% (21) of participants who said they use the tool this way, all gave examples that illustrated people asking for help on work-related information or activities. However, we cannot assume this is always the case which is why this category was not grouped with the work activities category.

While the other categories also had the ability to shed light on what a person was working on, and many examples previously mentioned highlighted this, we should not assume that they always do.

Interesting that when participants were asked: Has using Yammer changed your level of awareness with regards to what your colleagues are doing? (See Table 12) The majority, 60% (15) of participants thought Yammer has changed their level of awareness very much or extremely with regards to what their colleagues are doing. This may seem contradictory, but when we consider that 68% (17) of participants said they share their status, which by nature means they post what they are working on, and 84% (21), said they use Yammer for asking and answering questions—and we know many questions, all our examples, were work-related and uncovered what a person was working on, the findings are consistent.

What about the relatively large group of participants, 80% (20), said they use Yammer to share interesting information, or the 52% (13) who said they share knowledge? (Interesting information is defined as industry news which by nature is not intended to help anyone directly with the task at hand, unlike the tips in the knowledge category.) As stated earlier, neither of these, nor any other categories helped consistently uncover what a person is doing, but does that mean that they don’t have an impact on learning and therefore performance? Let’s explore the answer to this question by continuing our discussion and addressing research question 2.

This is a section of a research study, to read more, go to the Table of Contents.

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