Why Ambulance Victoria rolled out Workplace by Facebook

Around a third of Ambulance Victoria’s workforce is accessing Workplace by Facebook every week

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Ambulance Victoria

Workplace by Facebook has enjoyed 81 per cent adoption across Ambulance Victoria and is increasingly used to deliver two-way communication for its 6500-strong workforce. On average, around a third of the Ambulance Victoria workforce is using the platform each week.

Using the platform has also meant that educational sessions that may have previously been confined to 70 Ambulance Victoria staff can now reach thousands.

Critical medical training for paramedics is still conducted in-person, but Ambulance Victoria digital communications specialist Lauren Love told Computerworld that the organisation also runs a regular educational night. It normally takes place in metropolitan Melbourne, making it difficult for staff and volunteers in regional areas to attend.

“Live streaming those events allows people to be there at the time and ask questions, which can be answered on the spot. It also allows them to view this education session later if they were unable to attend,” Love said.

Being able to reach a much larger cross-section of staff has “been a really big change for us,” she said.

“One thing you notice with Workplace is that if someone asks a question, you can be guaranteed other people are thinking it,” she added. “And so, the good thing about Workplace is that it helps the people who may have been too shy to ask the question in the first place, and then everyone can learn from that answer.”

Ambulance Victoria has also found Workplace useful during the recent devastating bushfires. "Our CEO and other leaders used the platform to regularly check-in and care for employee mental health. Leaders acknowledged that this time can be difficult and continued to remind staff of our support networks," Love told Computerworld.

Staff used Workplace to share information about their experiences. One example of how the platform was employed came after Ambulance Victoria was alerted that animal welfare teams needed stock for injured animals.

"We used Workplace to get the message out enterprise-wide – paramedics collected outdated stock and supplies and donated them to wildlife care facilities," Love said.

Ambulance Victoria also used the tool to gather images from those on the frontline, which were then used externally to support messaging around the events.

"Workplace was heavily used and improved communications at this critical time for us," she added.

Organic growths

Before offering Workplace, Ambulance Victoria ran a trial that initially involved 600 people.

The pilot, launched in early 2017, was "phenomenally successful," according to Love. Participants were selected across different areas and regions of the business including regional, metro and rural areas and corporate communications. Within six months there was organic uptake of 2000 people.

Love said that word of mouth was key. She said that the rapid spread of the platform indicated that staff were not happy with the previous ways of communicating, which were mostly one-way (the organisation’s intranet), or via emails, which can sometimes go un-replied to. Before rolling out Workplace, less than a third of Ambulance Victoria’s staff were happy with how they communicated.

After the trial, Ambulance Victoria decided to implement Workplace across the entire organisation.

Successful uptake

For the rollout, Love, who started as a paramedic for Ambulance Victoria in 2012, went to branches and spoke to managers to help facilitate adoption.

"Whilst we're going down the digital path, we have to understand that people still like the face-to-face engagement," Love noted.

The biggest challenge was reaching out to the paramedics, as they are often on the move. "So we had to do things like go to hospitals, where we knew that they'd be appearing and hang out so we could actually catch them face to face when they are in transit and talk to them,” she said.

Although, the tool is accessible from branches’ desktops, the majority of staff and volunteers access Workplace via the mobile app.

"We have about one third of the workforce using the app. So the app was actually essential to the effectiveness for us. Another reason why we implemented was because of feedback telling us they had less time to reach computers," she explained.

"They couldn't find time to be at the computer because their job was so mobile and we were increasing our demand across Victoria so they spent less time at branches."

Ambulance Victoria has also been able to transform a lot of its processes because it can use the new communication tool to seek staff feedback. Users also have access to groups which are divided regionally so they get the messages that are most relevant to them, and also by branches to foster close community engagement.

Love said that Workplace had given people a voice. "I started off as a paramedic before I moved into the digital world and I understand what it's like not to have a voice. And I think it's changed that,” she said.

"I see people engaging, I see them sharing their ideas, and I see them giving feedback. And I think that's been the best thing. And like I said, we've got a very, very smart and savvy workforce, and they've got great ideas and to be able to actually see them offer them up to the organisation, it's probably been the most rewarding thing.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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