Photo contests one way to engage spread-out employees

UMass Medical School started a photo contest to connect colleagues in different locations; in the Netherlands, a telecommuting campaign aims big; and other highlights from this month’s IBF Live chat.

Massachusetts isn’t a big state, but it can seem huge when you have 1,700 employees spread from one end to the other, as the University of Massachusetts Medical School does.

To remind those employees that they’re all part of the same organization, the school’s intranet, Inside Commed, tried something simple: a photo contest.

“It’s all about building a community of employees,” Rose Tedesco, marketing communications manager at the school’s Commonwealth Medicine, told the hosts of the monthly IBF Live program from the Intranet Benchmarking Forum. “I think it could work anywhere.”

Since the contest’s introduction in spring 2009, it’s become the third-largest item on the school’s intranet, she said. And the best part? It’s basically free. The photos are displayed on the intranet homepage in a Flickr slideshow. That’s it.

Employees submit about 50 photos every month, Tedesco said. An internal committee narrows those to a group of finalists. Employees, usually about 300 to 500, then vote on those finalists on Inside Commed. The winning photo is framed and displayed in the school’s executive offices. (The bare walls in those executive offices inspired the idea.)

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