Why approval is important for profile photo updates

Published on: December 05, 2017

Last month I wrote about nine tips to taking a great profile photo, as part of this post it was great to hear from others about photos in their own digital workplace they had seen that didn't follow these simple tips. Unfortunately, no one was willing to send examples (spoil sports) but they did explain them....


My favorite stories from the ones who responded to me were:

  • a photo of an employee's dog or cat
  • a soccer/football team logo
  • employee wearing a sombrero and fake mostauche where you could barely see any of their real face 
  • also, it turns out Rob Burgundy, Yoda, Homer Simpson, and the Dos Equis man are popular profile pictures

I'm sure you are all nodding your head as you read these few examples. From our own research, we've found that this is why many companies take control of the profile photos, because they expect a portion of their employees won't do the right thing.

Typically we've found that uploading profile photos is disabled for employees across many systems (including Office 365 and SharePoint), and limited to the Human Resources team. For many organizations, employee profile photos are part of onboarding i.e. the photo is taken on "Day 1" and used for various internal systems. Profile photos are commonly used for printing security badges, employee records, and uploaded to the digital workplace.

Fun fact
: did you know that the silhouette profile photo in Outlook is actually a ghost of Bill Gates driving offense arrest photo?

The problem with locking the profile photo down, is the unfortunate reminder that we all change over time. Our hair styles change, the glasses we wear change, we may not be happy with the photo taken on our first day; its even possible that ten years has passed and we may look completely different. A self service way of allowing employees to change their profile photo with the necessary approval process in place is an important part of the digital workplace. 


Both Hyperfish Lite and Premium offer profile photo approvals before it is uploaded to Office 365.  The approvers are usually a designated set of users (we see HR often owning this in our customer base) or the employees manager.


Additionally, a key Hyperfish Premium feature takes advantage of Microsoft Azure AI Services to validate that there is at least ONE human face in the photo and only ONE face. This check is done as the user uploads their photo and eliminates many of the issues you see in company directories.   
Many organizations we talk to have strict rules, similar to passport photos. For example, only photos above the shoulder and with the top of the head at the top of the image.
We talked to one customer that used their profile photos to validate employee discounts in their retail stores. The company worked out that employees were changing their profile photos to their friends or family so they could claim the employee discount. It became critical for the company that profile photo changes were approved to prevent this.

I have written before on the importance of profile photos. Profile photos in the digital workplace help with: recalling conversations, finding people, recognition of people in meetings, and building your own digital brand in the company. With Hyperfish Lite, our service helps you to collect profile photos for Office 365 with an approval step for FREE. I encourage you all to get Hyperfish Lite today and improve your own digital workplace!


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