It starts on day one: Create and maintain a happy, engaged workforce from day one

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Microsoft regional communicator Katie Hasbargen was visiting the company’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash., when the chief financial officer strode by.

Hasbargen—who is based on Microsoft’s Fargo, N.D. campus—said, “Oh, that’s [CFO] Peter Klein.”

And the person she was with said, “It is?”Katie Hasbargen, Ph.D., a senior communications manager at Microsoft, directs public relations and internal communications for the 1,700 team members and vendors on Microsoft's Fargo, ND campus. She is also the program lead for the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance Program, which comprises more than 1,000 higher education institutions around the world.

It was an eye-opening moment, she says. Hasbargen, based 1,400 miles away, was more familiar with the executives than someone on the same site as the bigwigs.

Employees at distant offices needn’t be isolated, Hasbargen says in this essential session that was part of a Ragan conference on “The Role of Communications in Creating Best Places to Work.”

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • Tips and tricks for engaging new employees from day one
  • How local communication and leadership unify diverse teams and business units
  • How company traditions can inspire pride and build camaraderie
  • How to deliver a small company employee experience regardless of the size of your company

Find out how Microsoft boosts the morale in its local operations, in Fargo  by roping visiting executives into town hall meetings. Of Microsoft's 94,000 people, 50,000 work off campus, and nearly 900 of them are in Fargo, Hasbargen says. Fargo asks every visiting executive to participate in a town hall. Employees can pose questions and the bigwigs get feedback from the field.

Hear how Fargo uses an annual all-employee meeting off-campus to bring in executives and build a sense of attachment to the mother ship.

Find out how Fargo communicators make an event out of virtual meetings. When a company meeting is held, Fargo opens a conference room where staffers can plug in a laptop and work while keeping an eye on the event.

This in turn has increased attendance and improved knowledge of the company.

Learn how cake can play a role. From picnics to volleyball, the Fargo office tries to make things fun on occasion. Borrowing an idea from Copenhagen, Fargo decided to host a monthly “Cake Thursday,” setting out goodies for staffers.

Discover why Microsoft involves all staffers in testing its software. One of Microsoft's values is self-criticism, Hasbargen says. This means the company requires everyone—even the folks out in Fargo—to beta-test software before it is released to the public.

You’ll get creative ideas for welcoming newcomers. At Fargo the orientation goes beyond the global standard. From sweatshirts to a welcome screen, you’ll gather new ideas.

Find out how Fargo creates communications that go beyond corporate emails, such as a newsletter that spotlights an employee in every issue and discusses business events, volunteer opportunities, and other matters.

Hear how nonprofits are raking in money whenever Microsoft staffers volunteer. And find out how SharePoint kept people connected when the Fargo campus was closed down after a flood on the Red River.

Join Hasbargen for this session, and start building morale in ways that never would happened with directives from the home office.

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Broadcast: 
December 2012
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Presenter bio: 

Katie Hasbargen, Ph.D., a senior communications manager at Microsoft, directs public relations and internal communications for the 1,700 team members and vendors on Microsoft's Fargo, ND campus. She is also the program lead for the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance Program, which comprises more than 1,000 higher education institutions around the world.