The Thinkery is the new evolution of the Austin Children’s Museum that focuses on STEAM learning – science, technology, engineering, art, and math – as well as healthy living. The facility and employees pursue a vision of working with parents and kids to foster a creative and collaborative community that celebrates questions and discovery.
The Austin Children’s Museum was founded in 1983 by a grassroots group of parents and educators who wanted local children to have more educational and cultural opportunities. Since then, the facility has grown dramatically from a 5,000 square-foot office space to a 40,000 square-foot facility dedicated in 2013.
The Thinkery has become enormously popular in Austin. To keep up with demand, the organization has grown from 30 to 140 employees in less than a year. The Thinkery Staffing Manager Jenny Trawick is responsible for recruiting, onboarding, retention and employee communications.
“We have a lot of people with a lot of information to share about a lot of programs,” Trawick said. “Controlling that information flow and ensuring it meets the tone of our organization was proving to be a challenge.”
To keep up with the flow of information, Trawick would spend up to 10 hours a week developing employee emails to communicate news about programs, staff or logistical information. However, part-time employees who lacked email accounts would often miss the news and feel disconnected from the rest of the organization.
Trawick needed a solution that could replace email communications and help manage the flow of information to all employees. She needed to ensure content was consistent and carried the proper tone to match The Thinkery’s environment and culture.
Trawick learned about Bloomfire from an executive staff member and quickly put it in place to communicate company news. She created a team of authors and changed her role from content creator to content editor, switching from mass emails to a shared knowledge base.
The authors use Bloomfire to create series of news about company programs, employees and events.
“I review everything,” Trawick said. “I view posts before they’re published and to ensure the information is accurate, consistent and that the tone is always right.”
Trawick then tags the posts and organizes the content into a series so the information can be easily searched and retrieved later.
Trawick now has more time to spend on traditional HR responsibilities. Before Bloomfire, she would spend up to 10 hours a week developing content over email. Now she spends one to two hours a week editing submissions from designated authors.
“I used to spend more of my time chasing people down for content,” she said. “Bloomfire now gives our entire administrative staff responsibility for sharing information. I can now work a lot harder on other programs to make the organization more inclusive.”
Bloomfire has also enabled The Thinkery to include part-time workers to the conversation without the cost of developing and managing additional Thinkery email accounts. Trawick estimates this saves The Thinkery as much a $6,500 in email costs.
Bloomfire has also given her the ability to know what employees are reading, what they find to be most useful in their jobs, and how serious they are about staying abreast of the latest news.
“I really like that I can see who has read a post,” Trawick said. “And I find that I use that feature a lot when conducting staff evaluations. It’s given me the ability to put responsibility on people to consume the information that is being shared.”
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