If you’re a large organization, you understand all too well the hardships of not only connecting your dispersed staff but also securing the full engagement of your workforce. But the remedy may be closer than you think. For customer Mattress Firm, the solution to their problems came from an unexpected but welcome internal resource — their employee Randy.

The legacy intranet

Headquartered in Houston TX, and founded in 1986, Mattress Firm is the leading specialty bedding retailer in the US. With over 3,500 stores in 49 states, with four corporate headquarters, and more than 10,000 workers. As a large company that holds brands such as Sleepy’s, Sleep Train, and of course, Mattress Firm, keeping employees all over the US connected proved to be a challenge. The challenge grew worse after Mattress Firm’s rapid growth through acquisition, a task that left them stuck managing three separate intranet platforms, without one that fully met the needs of their business.

According to Tammy Friedeck, Communications Supervisor at Mattress Firm, the company received employee feedback that complained about the quality of the legendary intranet, saying things like, “BEDpost is so necessary and informative but is confusing to navigate” and “The BEDpost is not great at searching. Unless you keep all the old emails with links, information is very difficult to find.”

After hearing many gripes and requests to “keep information on BEDpost up to date” it quickly became apparent that their current intranet platform was lacking in many ways, especially when it came to teamwork.

Because of this, they decided to launch a new version of their intranet “BEDPost” alongside Interact to seamlessly blend the best features of the three independent intranets under one new roof.

Empowering employees to share feedback

Mattress Firm’s communications department outlined three goals for the new software:

  • Improve the search functionality and offer a more intuitive user experience
  • Provide employees with the ability to engage in two-way communication and share feedback
  • Create a dynamic platform that makes it easy to load and maintain information

As a step toward their goal, Mattress Firm made improving search, navigation and collaboration a top priority in their new intranet’s implementation. Firstly, BEDPost’s homepage became the face of all store computers, used to feature the most critical company messages and to provide links to all the documents and information used most frequently by employees. The homepage is also used to highlight affirmations, a long-standing tradition that quickly became the most visited section of the site. Employees have the opportunity to show appreciation for their colleges in real time and can like and comment on posts so others can share in the excitement of congratulations given to others.

The second step was the implementation of Interact’s forums feature. With this, Mattress Firm encourages collaborative idea sharing among employees and creates a culture of two-way communication. They created the successful “Gr8 Ideas” discussion boards. Named after their “Replace every 8” campaign, the Gr8 Ideas forum allows employees to submit ideas for everything from process improvements, product improvements, and how-to advice.

Staff can share frustrations with processes or suggest improvements in the ‘Gr8 Ideas’ sectionThe Gr8 Ideas forum is more proof that having a two-way feedback approach is essential to the success of any organization and resulted in more than 252 threads created and 8,556 visits to GR8 Ideas section in the first six months of launch.

Producing the forum yielded great success but maintaining this victory is not as easy as it may seem. Trying to maintain authentic communications can be a difficult task and the “them vs. us” mentality that naturally occurs in large organizations can make it near to impossible to start a collaboration among hard-to-reach and dispersed employees.

When there is a physical distance between employees and corporate, the cultural divide can be vast. Luckily, Mattress Firm gained access to an internal resource that turned the entire situation around.

Randy to the rescue

A couple of months after the launch of the BEDpost, Mattress Firm took notice of Randy, a very active member of the Gr8 Ideas forum. He often posted with the answers to pressing questions and fantastic insights into the implementation of specific ideas and processes.

Recognizing that Randy was already setting himself up to be a spectacular internal influencer, the comms team coached him on their communications tone, gave him guidance on stock answers he could use to share his ideas, and connected him with content managers that could assist with the questions he did not already have the answers to.

He became a power user, conversing with associates across the organization via the intranet and building a reputation for transparency and authenticity in their online community. Because his views aren’t seen as “corporate speak”, his colleagues can relate to and value his perspective, express their opinions, feel free to voice questions and be sure that their ideas are receiving the proper attention from the organization.

How you can be more Randy

  • Keep an eye out for your very own Randy, a star employee who already shares the answers to what he knows with the community.
  • Polish your newly found gem by giving him the recognition he deserves and the training that he needs to provide the most helpful knowledge he can.
  • Connect him with the right people that can give him support and escalation points when he may not know the answer. This helps him maintain his place of authority and solidifies his role as the go-to employee among his colleagues.

Encourage all the potential Randy’s across your organization. Your hard-to-reach, non-desk, and remote employees will benefit from genuine answers and advice from someone within the organization that has the ear of corporate and fully understands their circumstance and role.

Gathering more authentic content for your intranet can only be beneficial to not only the comms team (as it saves them 15-20 hours per week in intranet maintenance) but also to the entire organization.