Yammer logo, with a Christmas hat

“I wish I wasn’t here anymore…”

This is what 87-year-old Christina Hewitt said when ITV interviewed her last December following a burglary at her home. Mrs Hewitt had only recently been diagnosed with lung cancer when the crime happened. The thieves stole all the Christmas gifts she had bought for her family, as well as nearly £1,000 in savings.

The Granada Reports story on the incident was heartbreaking; the impact of the burglary harrowing.

But the day after, something heartwarming happened.

Staff in one of our offices started chatting about the news report. They wanted to do a little collection for her and wondered if she was a Northwards Housing tenant, so they asked the question on our Yammer network.

It turned out she was, and within half an hour, this “little collection” turned into something altogether much bigger.

Staff from all six of our offices donated to the cause, as well as employees from our contractors Manchester Working. We got in touch with Mrs Hewitt’s local Tesco to ask them to donate groceries, and after contacting ITV, Granada Reports asked us to co-ordinate the many offers of gifts that they were receiving.

Within hours, we’d raised enough money to replace most of Mrs Hewitt’s presents. Combined with the donations that others outside of Northwards provided, we were able to help give this great grandmother back not just her Christmas, but her faith in humanity.

And we wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without an internal social network.

In all likelihood, without Yammer, the response would’ve stayed a small, single-office fundraiser. But through the network, everyone from large teams to lone workers had the opportunity to contribute and make a difference.

This is perhaps the greatest business benefit an internal social network offers: the chance to magnify and mobilise the potential of your employees in unprecedented ways.

If you’re employing talented people, knowledgeable people, generous people, then a social network gives you the opportunity to help those qualities blossom across your whole organisation.

Fail to tap into that, and those assets stay firmly within their particular offices, teams or – worst of all – private lives.

As you can see in the follow up Granada Reports story, Mrs Hewitt’s story had a happy ending. Here’s to many more in the future.

Mrs Hewitt, centre, with Northwards' director of neighbourhood services Mike Stevens (left) and Northwards warden George Lightbowne (right)

Mrs Hewitt, centre, receiving a Christmas food hamper from Northwards’ director of neighbourhood services Mike Stevens (left) and Northwards warden George Lightbowne (right).