Upstate Vet - theEMPLOYEEapp

Upstate Vet

Vet holding a puppy and a cat

Upstate Vet

The Situation: Overcoming obstacles to clear, effective communication

In 2017, Upstate Vet (UVS) recognized holes in their internal communication strategy.

  • One department fielded all questions and outreach from employees via email, bogging them down.
  • They had no way to alert employees of situations like major equipment being down and unable to be used (e.g. the MRI machine).
  • And their intranet contained information they needed, like policies and procedures, but it wasn’t used by their employees due to its inaccessibility.

Beyond these obstacles to clear communication, the team wanted to improve culture, morale, and create a fun team atmosphere. In part, this was because they were preparing for a merger in the next six months and knew they would need a way to bring two companies and groups of employees together.

So, they set out to find a tool that would allow them to provide easy access to important information, policies, training tools, and procedures, while also allowing their team to share their own content and build community.

In October of 2017, UVS launched theEMPLOYEEapp and retired their old, unused employee intranet.

“The app changed everything. It’s been critical to getting everything to all team members and make it so they can communicate with each other and with us.”

Brittni Huff, Employee Training & Development Manager, Upstate Vet

The Employee App: Bark Ward

Switching from email communication and an ineffective intranet to a branded mobile communication app opened up a world of possibilities for Upstate Vet to solve their main comms challenges.

The app gave them:

  • The ability to selectively use push notifications on certain pieces of content allowed them to cut through the noise, so all targeted employees would see urgent or important updates. They were also able to use push notifications to share information about equipment being down, shortages on supplies, weather delays or closings, and more.
  • News Feed and Explore pages allow UVS to keep policies, procedures, and training information organized in a folder, while engaging content, news, and current information lives in the News Feed for maximum engagement.
  • The ability to assign specific permissions to individual users and groups opened up the possibility for Upstate Vet employees to post content, swap shifts, or even share stories with a group(s) of employees.
  • The have the ability to deploy two profiles within one app—one for all Specialty employees and one for Emergency personnel. This helps UVS keep emergency information separate from day-to-day communications.

Once the merger was complete, Upstate Vet created an app profile for each hospital, Greenville and Asheville, to make it easier to share hospital-specific information with each hospital’s staff. And because profiles can be custom-branded, they are able to have each profile reflect the culture of each hospital, while still sharing top-down communication through one single mobile app.

Communicating Through a Merger

The two veterinary practices that make up Upstate Vet, a specialty practice and an ER practice, had worked together for 22 years but never as one company.

Previously, the ER side had limited communication with the daytime team. So, although there was no animosity during the merger, they still weren’t a cohesive team yet.

UVS faced the challenge of making both the daytime staff and nighttime ER staff all feel included, engaged, and informed.

theEMPLOYEEapp allowed them to seamlessly integrate two disparate teams into one platform.

Upstate Vet & theEMPLOYEEapp Successes

  • UVS has reached 98% adoption across their combined teams due to sharing need-to-know content and including the Bark Ward app in the employee onboarding process.
  • In the first half of 2020, Upstate Vet had nearly 20,000 content opens. With just over 200 employees that’s over 16 content opens per user per month.
  • They have achieved incredibly high engagement:
    • Of all theEMPLOYEEapp clients, Upstate Vet is consistently in the top five for most comments and top 15 for most post likes, even as one of our smaller clients.
    • 100% of their users are “active” on the app each month. In other words, every employee consistently uses the app on a monthly basis.
    • Every COVID-19 related piece of content they sent was opened an average of three times per person.
    • Operational content performs very well with work schedules being one of the most viewed pieces of content each quarter.
  • The internal communication team has used the app for inclusion activities and recognition to build morale and community pre- and post-merger.
  • Between the Directory and their New Hires Folder (where they post pictures and descriptions of new team members), they have enabled everyone to know who their colleagues are and to let people who aren’t on the same shifts still communicate.

“theEMPLOYEEapp has raised the bar in terms of how we communicate within the hospital. The app has been instrumental in helping with the integration of our new employees post-merger.”

— Brittni Huff, Training and Development Manager, Upstate Vet

About Upstate Vet

Upstate Vet provides advanced medical, surgical, neurological, cancer, dental, and eye care for pets in Upstate South Carolina, Western North Carolina, Western Tennessee, and Northern Georgia. 

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