Most employee advocacy programs produce ready-to-share content in the hopes employees will peruse and then share the materials they think their communities would be interested in. IBM’s Think Academy has taken a more strategic approach based on the belief that informed employees will be better equipped not only to share but to talk about the transformations taking place in their organization and industry. Think Academy’s outstanding effort has won IBM first place in the “Employee Advocacy” category of PR Daily’s 2015 Employee Communications Awards.
Think Academy’s focus is designed to provide IBMers with knowledge, insights, and skills. The content offers a variety of different ways to learn, accommodating employees’ individual preferences with video and print that can be consumed in snack-sized nuggets.
The Think Academy mobile app offers employees the ability to pose questions to IBM experts, “Behind the News” content that explains the company’s announcements, and more. Quizzes help the people behind the Academy determine which topics might require stronger education efforts; another feedback mechanism assesses staff learning behavior and offers additional learning recommendations. IBMers can also assess their own level of expertise in a number of topics.
Employee satisfaction with the program is high: Participation surged 243 percent in 2015 with an increase of 1.5 million visits to the page; the number of return visitors also grew nearly 20 percent. Think Academy’s mobile app is IBM’s most popular non-utility app (downloaded 73,000 times). Despite shorter content, the average time spent on the platform increased by 2 minutes.
For developing and growing a program that develops true ambassadors, congratulations are due to Edward Bevan, Amy Loomis, Jennifer Vickery, and Christopher Luongo.