It’s not a secret that most employees engage in some form of social behavior with their co-workers or friends while at work. It’s a safe bet that many break rooms are filled with people sitting and staring at their favorite smart-device while they enjoy their lunch.
These individuals are a classic example of what it means to be “engaged.” Imagine if we could take advantage of this seemingly natural desire for people to engage, collaborate and connect within our organizations to improve our business practices. Imagine if we could turn these “social toys” into something more useful, like “social tools.”
Most researchers and engagement specialists define levels of engagement using workplace stereotypes that highlight the specific levels of engagement. I choose to define the level of engagement using a few such stereotypes. First up is the least engaged of the bunch, the Worker Bee. The Worker Bee comes to work and does only what is required of them; they fill their role as described in their job description and nothing else.
Next on the scale of engagement comes the Team Player. The Team Player is slightly more engaged and works not only for themselves but for the good of their direct team. Then there’s the Entrepreneur, who enjoys offering new ideas and methods for streamlining processes.
Lastly is the most engaged Company Man who goes above and beyond in attempts to not only fulfill their duties and further their team’s success, but promotes and helps the company as a whole even if it is not a part of their normal duties.
Notice the more an employee becomes engaged the more they are working to benefit a larger group and likewise forming a larger team. It is in this gap that we find the application of social tools most beneficial. Improving engagement is a process that requires the removal of productivity and collaboration roadblocks.
If an employee is not offered the ability to engage in any of the aforementioned ways, then you can rest assured the level of engagement will never be something that improves. In other words, in order for a Worker Bee to be able to engage more and move up to a Team Player they need the tools to do so. Enterprise social tools are the platform for improved employee engagement.
Enterprise social tools are a largely misunderstood topic of conversation in organizations today. A recent study across a variety of industries showed that the biggest challenge to adopting social tools is a clear understanding of what “going social” truly means.
There are two sides of the social discussion that get lumped into one far too often. The first piece of this puzzle pertains to external social initiatives that are meant to effect key performance indicators like asset growth and member count.
External facing initiatives turn toys into tools using platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn to expand member engagement and marketing initiatives. When I speak of “enterprise social tools” I am referring to tools utilized within the organization that are not linked to the outside world.
Quality enterprise social tools are added to software like an intranet solution and should allow for improved collaboration utilizing the natural occurring desire for employees to engage with each other. These tools serve as a bridge over the roadblocks that often occur within an organization that prevent collaboration between employees and departments.
An employee intranet provides the perfect implementation grounds for an enterprise social tool initiative. Users are given the opportunity to share links to frequently used documents; receive notifications on updates to important documents, dashboards, calendars, or changes in promotions for products and services.
Users can also share content and activities through activity feeds that display things like the creation of new pages or groups, birthdays, and anniversaries. Employee intranet centered enterprise social tools should also include the ability to follow other users across the organization and communicate in a transparent, controlled manner through status updates and social profiles.
An employee Intranet offering social tools as a supplement to additional business tools like vendor management, electric forms, announcements, document management or request systems provides an additional layer of value to already highly beneficial services.
It is the addition of these social-focused tools to regularly used business applications that bridges the gap between toy and tool. The complex part of adding social tools to your processes is in understanding how they are applied. Simply providing access to an additional piece of software that allows for some of this social interaction will not necessarily improve opportunity for engagement.
The key to reaping the benefits of social toys and creating social tools comes in their application within other more valuable applications. After all, who needs another piece of software to police?
Studies show that engaged employees tend to stay for what they give while disengaged employees stay for what they get. A study conducted by Blessing White, published in 2011, shows that only one in three employees are engaged while one in five is disengaged, worldwide.
Full engagement occurs at the alignment of maximum job satisfaction and maximum job contribution. Engaged employees are not just committed, they are not just passionate or proud. Engaged employees contribute to the greater collective.
These individuals have a dial on improving their own future and on the organization’s mission and goals. Social tools are the key to the compound lock that is employee engagement and improved engagement leads to a higher functioning organization. Increased levels of employee engagement have been correlated with greater customer satisfaction, productivity, profit, and decreased turnover, absenteeism, and accidents.
Resulting impact on revenue ranged from $960,000 to $1,440,000 per year, per business unit when comparing those companies in the top quartile on employee engagement versus those companies in the bottom quartile. (Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology)
The benefits of employee engagement are clear and hopefully I have helped outline a great solution to get you there.