Social Intranet Case Study – Financial Institution Banking on Employee Engagement

The Farm Bureau Bank (FBB) is the online banking arm of the Farm Bureau, the nationwide non-profit advocacy group for American farmers and ranchers. When the FBB implemented a ThoughtFarmer intranet in mid-2010, they never expected it would play such a critical role in proactively building the company’s culture.

We’ve written a complete case study outlining the benefits the FBB has enjoyed from their social intranet, the tactics they’ve used to launch and manage it, and the business needs they’ve met.

Read the full case study (free)

The "Barnyard" is the informal section of the FBB's social intranet

In this blog post we’ve provided a brief overview of that case study.

Standard social intranet Cinderella story

The FBB’s tale begins as so many great social intranet case studies do, with a simple Cinderella story: When they implemented their ThoughtFarmer intranet as part of an overhaul of internal communications, they moved from an old top-down intranet with dry, one-way communication to a social intranet that empowered employees to connect and contribute. The poor, down-trodden step daughter (the old intranet) emerged as a beautiful princess with glass slippers (the new social intranet).

But their new social intranet, named “The Insider,” evolved into more than an open communications channel that was better than its predecessor. It began to impact the company’s culture, increase employee engagement and help staff complete their work more easily.

This all came about due to a special sauce the FBB concocted: great support for content contributors, an ideal mix of business and pleasure, and plenty of space for employees to take the reigns.

Building, not just supplementing, company culture

From the outset of the intranet project the bank wanted to help management communicate with employees and employees with each other. But the intranet’s ability to bring people together and craft a shared experience of the company has had a powerful influence on culture.

“We’re trying to create a team feeling here,” Valerie Arocha, the bank’s Training Director says, “a feeling that we all have to work together to meet our goals. To be honest, before the intranet, we did not have a readily identifiable corporate culture. The Insider has become the very root of our culture.”

Enabling cross-departmental connections

Critical to The Insider’s role in building company culture is the way it helps employees from distinct parts of the company find, connect and communicate with each other.

“The Insider has really opened up the doors for employees in departments that don’t often interact with each other for business,” notes Janie Casas, FBB’s HR coordinator and intranet co-administrator. “It really has worked out perfectly.”

Mixing business with pleasure

Another factor that has helped The Insider deliver powerful results is the element of fun injected by the FBB intranet team. While their social intranet has become a business critical application and provides all types of needed information to employees, it also includes playful elements and community-enhancing sections.

From the “Shout-outs” employee recognition section to the “Barn Yard” with its playful graphics, the sense of personality and light-heartedness creates an inviting online space. While some companies feel that the intranet, no matter how social, is for business and not fun, the FBB seems to have found the perfect balance.

Secret super fertilizer: Supporting content contributors

Finally, the FBB team has mastered a very old-school intranet best practice that has only become more important with modern social intranets: they actively support their content contributors.

With their thoughtful tactics and active outreach, the FBB intranet team keeps content contributors from all departments engaged, excited and empowered. This practice has proven as important as any other aspect of their social intranet in gaining sustained, transformative use.

The Farm Bureau Bank case study provides excellent real-world examples, screenshots and ideas. You can read the full FBB case study, or see our full collection of case studies for a dose of social intranet inspiration.

Starting a new intranet project? Our Intranet Buyers Workbook guides you through understanding business goals, choosing the right team, defining requirements, and evaluating intranet solutions. Download now.

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