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Former Member

Editor's note: This article by Carolyn Beal, Director, Solution Marketing for Enterprise Social Solutions at SAP, is reproduced from the Oct-Nov-Dec 2013 issue of SAPinsider ( with permission from its publisher, WIS Publishing. Read the entire special report on social collaboration at

Improving Employee Engagement with Social Collaboration

Many organizations struggle to effectively unite, engage, and empower employees. Often, communication is disconnected and contained in individual silos, hindering collaboration and affecting productivity.

TELUS Communications, a $10.9 billion global telecommunications corporation that is headquartered in Canada, faced these issues. The company’s 40,000 employees (“team members”) are spread across several different countries and business units. With team members including field technicians, call center support, engineers, sales, finance, HR, and legal staff, this workforce is as diverse as it comes.

Dan Pontefract, Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS and author of the book, Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, as well as his colleagues, took a new approach. In the summer of 2010, they developed the TELUS Leadership Philosophy (TLP), which encourages team members to engage and explore ideas openly. In addition, the TLP embeds a connected learning model that is formal, informal, and social. “This is a systemic and organizational leadership model for everyone to subscribe to,” says Pontefract. “It’s for everyone from vice presidents to individual contributors.”

In adopting the TLP, TELUS enhanced its dynamic corporate culture to also focus on collaboration and engaging team members. The initial results were impressive — TELUS saw a major increase in engagement by 2012. “We don’t believe in ever resting on our laurels,” says Pontefract. “We’re quite proud to improve our employee engagement statistics. By the middle of 2013, we achieved 81% employee engagement.”

Maintaining the Momentum

To keep up the momentum, Pontefract and the management team were in search of a solution that could be as dynamic as the organization. Their HR and IT teams decided the right strategy to improve the team member experience was to explore the current state of the company’s HR and social collaboration applications. TELUS chose SuccessFactors’ HR applications and SAP Jam to enhance the team member experience — from the cloud. As a result, TELUS team members across the globe can now communicate virtually anywhere and on mobile devices.

In 2013, TELUS rolled out SAP Jam (see Figure 1). With this social collaboration platform, TELUS can enable collaboration at every level of the business to increase team member and business partner engagement, and facilitate dynamic learning environments.

How does SAP Jam advance the TELUS corporate strategy? Through a variety of communication and collaboration methods within the solution such as blogs, wikis, videos, status updates, and document sharing, TELUS achieves a company-wide conversation that is both productive and engaging.

TELUS takes an approach from both enterprise-wide and business unit- and program-focused angles. For example, TELUS recently aimed to galvanize the organization around a “level playing field” group, in which all team members could contribute ideas and thoughts toward a critical business issue. Within SAP Jam, there is a group that features a conversation around a pending spectrum auction in Canada. “It doesn’t matter your role — whether you’re a field technician, in sales, or in finance — we all should share in the responsibility of contributing our thoughts,” says Pontefract. “This is a community that fosters education and collaboration within the organization.”

Another example of TELUS’ use of SAP Jam involves its “Leadership Now” program comprising approximately 900 high-potential and high-performing team members. The group leverages SAP Jam with SuccessFactors Learning Management System to embody TELUS’ belief that learning is formal, informal, and social. Polling, videos, document sharing, achievements, and link sharing all occur within the SAP Jam community. “This SAP Jam group is a very important piece to the Leadership Now program,” says Pontefract.

How is TELUS measuring success? It’s still early, but within the first four weeks of deployment, more than 6,500 TELUS team members have been using the SAP Jam solution. They have added 1,000 wiki pages, 1,600 questions, 400 photos, and 150 videos.

What’s Next in the Evolution?

What advice does Pontefract have for his peers? “Form before function, behavior before tool,” he says. “You need to have a behavioral model in your organization with which your employees feel as though they have a voice. It cannot be a culture of fear. SAP Jam complements the TELUS behavioral model of fair process — engage, explore, explain, execute, and evaluate.”

TELUS aims to have SAP Jam continue the company’s quest to respond to its “Customers First” corporate priority, while providing a seamless connected learning experience across all global regions and for team members across a wide variety of job titles and departments. By incorporating team members with different experiences, TELUS can get the most out of the software’s collaborative features and provide knowledge throughout its enterprise. SAP Jam will continue to enable employee engagement opportunities, solidifying the company’s belief that the TELUS culture is its single biggest competitive advantage. As Pontefract says, “A healthy culture is a healthy company.” For more information about SAP Jam, visit