Introducing Social Employee Engagement: Shifting From Technology To People


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Social employee engagement puts people at the centre by focusing on what inspires and
engages them to do their best work. This report offers a complete introduction to social business and sets out a roadmap for success.

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  • I loved the idea of creating your own ted-x event. I also recommend making your own employee engagement app as tool to share knowledge and pushing a lot of content. there are platforms like available to do that bit.
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Introducing Social Employee Engagement: Shifting From Technology To People

  1. 1. Introducing Social Employee Engagement: Shifting from technology to people Social Employee Engagement Dean Parker, Digital Consultant
  2. 2. Social Employee Engagement Executive Summary While social media continue to have a profound effect on the way we are able to connect and share with people outside the office, many organisations have been slow to recognise the value they can bring to the workplace. This results in continued inefficiencies as well as missed opportunities to improve innovation, productivity and engagement. Although in recent times we have witnessed a growing appreciation of the role that social tools can play in supporting greater collaboration between employees, many of the early adopters find they’re not working as well as they had hoped. A key reason for this is a rush to implement new technologies rather than take a more considered approach that puts employees at the heart of the action. It’s surprising how many organisations fail to ask some of the most important questions, such as “How could being more collaborative help achieve overall business goals?”, “What do employees need in order to share and collaborate more effectively?” and “Why are they going to want to collaborate?”. Simply giving your employees a shiny new toy to play with is just not going to work. All of the following ideas - throwing tools over the fence and waiting for employees to use them as they see fit; allowing internal teams to choose their own and expecting use to grow organically throughout the organisation; ordering employees to use them without clearly demonstrating the benefits; or just supplying employees with basic instructions on how to use the tools without making them attractive, have been largely discredited. While these approaches can be a useful way of driving initial adoption, the focus on tools over outcomes most often results in an alarming drop-off in use over time. The emphasis needs to shift away from solely concentrating on the technology and more towards creating the right conditions for collaboration. As much time and effort needs to be given to driving the adoption and use of social tools as to developing the business case, tools and frameworks. Despite the fact that to become a truly social enterprise (so it is embedded in everything you do) requires a fundamental change to working practices and technologies, your journey towards this must always be focused on meeting the ambitions and motivations of your employees. Only by first considering specific issues related to individuals, communities and management - and then by addressing them in a creative, human-centred way - will you ensure your employees are continually excited, inspired and engaged by the possibilities that social tools and practices afford them. Ultimately,thepowerofsocialtechnologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves. The Social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. McKinsey Global Institute Report, July 2012 “ “ The term ‘Social Employee Engagement’ is about going back to basics. It’s about moving away from an approach that is often pre-occupied with tools and processes (‘Social Business’ or ‘Enterprise 2.0’) towards one with a greater emphasis on employees themselves. Social employee engagement puts people at the centre by focusing on what inspires and engages them to do their best work.
  3. 3. Social Employee Engagement 1 A real opportunity for positive change 3 The need for a different approach 4 A road map for creating successful social employee engagement 1. Get senior level buy-in a. Create a solid business case b. Set clear objectives c. Don’t work in isolation 6 2. Put the right frameworks in place a. Identify key use cases b. Select and develop appropriate tools c. Develop a governance framework 7 3. Encourage adoption and engagement a. Create a launch plan b. Develop on-going communications c. Measure, review and adapt 9 Our experts 10 References 11 About SAS Contents
  4. 4. Social Employee Engagement 1 Given the growing acceptance that many of the traditional ways of working are inefficient and ineffective, it is not surprising that many senior managers are now actively looking to create more agile and collaborative practices that empower their employees to do more and create greater value. A real opportunity for positive change Top performing companies are making the shift to becoming more resilient, agile and innovative organisations. This presents an exciting opportunity to rethink the ways employees work together to generate ideas, improve products and services, and serve customers. At the same time, they are often trying to grapple with the issue of employees that may already be disengaged. Collaborating with colleagues and focusing on outcomes rather than outputs are two proven ways of increasing levels of engagement and improving productivity. The subsequent desire for new and better ways of working from both employers and employees means the subject of collaboration is increasingly becoming a board level conversation and one that is increasingly likely to be endorsed by the CEO. 88%Of fully engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their organization’s products and services. 38%Of disengaged employees feel the same way. Engagement at Risk: Driving Strong Performance in a Volatile Global Environment Global Workforce Study 2012, Towers Watson 52%Of the CEOs interviewed intend to make significant changes to their organizations to improve internal collaboration and they want to involve the entire C-suite. IBM ‘Leading Through Connections’ Global CEO Study CEOs know they’ll have to change the way their companies function. Nearly half say improving operational effectiveness is one of their top three investment priorities this year. 16th Annual Global CEO Survey, PWC, 2013 “ “ …managers spend between five and 20 hours a week reading and writing e-mails. On average, each of Atos’s 80,000 employees was receiving more than 100 e-mails per day, of which only 15 percent were deemed ‘useful’. “Atos boss Thierry Breton defends his internal e-mail ban” BBC, December 6, 2012 “ “ Collaboration is the number one trait CEOs are seeking in their employees, with 75% of them calling it critical. IBM ‘Leading Through Connections’ Global CEO Study. “ “
  5. 5. Social Employee Engagement 2 So given this demand, what are the main challenges that organisations face in their quest to become more collaborative?
  6. 6. Social Employee Engagement 3 Gartner has predicted that until 2015, 80% of social collaboration efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and a technology driven approach that fails to address the behavioural elements of becoming a social business. At the same time, there is a tendency for organisations to run before they can walk. It’s difficult to become a social enterprise, with all that entails (practising social commerce, social innovation, social marketing, social relationship building, gathering insights from social etc.), before first laying the foundations that will encourage employees to adopt social behaviours. The need for a different approach Despite the recent proliferation of social tools being used within organisations, many of these fail to live up to expectations. Going forward companies need to foster a gradual shift away from the siloed mentality of old towards the more open, informal and conversational practices demanded by the new type of knowledge worker. Admittedly this is not easy. In order to empower employees there needs to be careful governance and support from management to ensure they embrace this new way of working and the ensuing uncertainties that come with it. So in short, the main challenges faced by organisations in their social crusade relate to questions of strategy, leadership and governance. In order to overcome them, there are three approaches that are critical to success: 1 A mixture of skills and expertise Only a healthy mix of engagement, creative and technology expertise will give you the skills to develop experiences and content that inspire employees to participate in new ways of working. These three elements will help you adopt an approach that is rooted in human behaviour rather than technology and ensure your social collaboration efforts fit in seamlessly with any wider employee engagement strategies. 2 A fresh approach to adoption and change Understanding the behaviours associated with the use of internal and external social collaboration tools (rather than just their features) will allow you to develop appropriate change and adoption programmes that are based on the way that people want to work rather than out-dated practices of the past. This means first getting under the skin of your employees to find their real motivations and then applying creative communication techniques to engage them in change. 3 A technology agnostic plan of attack Rounded knowledge of the social collaboration tools and traditional platforms (intranets) available will give you a holistic view of the digital workplace that no single technology provider or re-seller can provide. Only by considering all these platforms together will you be able to take an impartial view on the best way of integrating enterprise and social networks into your business in a way that matches the culture and expectations of your employees. 46%Of the companies surveyed increased their social business investments in 2012 IBM ‘Leading Through Connections’ Global CEO Study
  7. 7. Social Employee Engagement 4 A roadmap for creating successful social employee engagement. There are three key elements to the process of developing and implementating a successful enterprise social network...
  8. 8. Social Employee Engagement 5 Create a solid business case Although many senior managers are demanding more collaborative practices in their organisation, a solid business case often still needs to be made to secure the required budget and involvement of key people. While the benefits are easy to identify at a macro level (e.g. it will make the business/teams more proactive; it will create more effective collaboration between employees; it will encourage employees to share ideas; it will make decision making quicker and it will create happier, more engaged employees), they ultimately need to be focused on what is appropriate for your particular type of business and wherever possible, be linked to quantifiable business results. An audit looking at the current levels of employee engagement within an organisation is an effective way of identifying specific areas where social tools can play a key role in improving collaboration. Set clear objectives You need to establish clear objectives for your communities so they understand if and why they should join in. Identify specific business opportunities with objectives that can be clearly linked to the use of social tools – this is a sure fire way of gaining adoption. Also, objectives that are aligned to the overall business strategy and vision also work well as they are already embedded within the culture of the business. Internal social collaboration initiatives are destined to fail if objectives are too vague or ambitious. 1 Examples of objectives related to different business functions R&D • Innovate through partnership • Develop communities of experts Sales • Fully integrate customer/client insights into the sales process Human Resources • Create a more effective recruitment process • Improve how talent is managed within the business Working with HR to identify how social can be infused into the full employee life cycle • In the on-boarding process by creating role specific social spaces that provide a living source of information across different functions • Through social spaces where new hires can ask and reply to questions from other recent starters • To support Learning and Development programmes by allowing employees to connect both before and after courses and therefore create stronger social support systems Don’t work in isolation Although the idea of involving people from disparate parts of an organisation can be a daunting prospect, this approach is more likely to gain universal approval and ultimately add greater value to the business. Just having the leadership team involved in communicating how they would like their employees to participate in internal social collaboration initiatives, as well as regular and personal involvement in the process to keep momentum going, are some of the most important triggers for adoption. Get senior level buy-in Focus on specific challenges that have direct benefits which are easy to assess from organisational, management, community and individual perspectives. A. B. C. Identify specific business opportunities with objectives that can be clearly linked to the use of social tools - that is a sure fire way of gaining adoption. “ “
  9. 9. Social Employee Engagement 6 Identify key use cases Although use cases lie at the heart of any successful internal social collaboration initiative, they are often poorly thought through which leads to a certain amount of vagueness – the enemy of engagement! Use cases can relate to many different aspects of work – from networking to project management, team- work, on-boarding, learning, talent management or team formation. Yet when we come to think about collaboration between employees, we need to develop a more sophisticated understanding of what it really means in today’s workplace. After all there are many different types of collaboration, and employees are often involved with a myriad of different teams and projects at any given time. It is always a good idea to start small by developing use cases that will prove to be useful and practical to employees in their day-to- day work and so are likely to generate quick wins. Develop a governance framework Naturally, the type of governance framework your organisation needs will depend on its type and size, the use cases you have developed and technologies you have chosen. However, there are some basic rules that will help you develop a governance framework that allows you to take command, rather than control, of your internal social collaboration efforts. First and foremost, policies must be simple and easy to understand. Secondly, as governance needs to cover subjects related to people, processes, technology and data - you will need a cross-functional team of people from various disciplines to take responsibility for developing policies and guidelines, co-ordinating resources, sharing best practice and promoting them internally. And finally, the governance process itself should be open enough to encourage and empower employees to develop their own structures and rules, experiment with them and spread the word across the business. Select and develop appropriate tools Regrettably, the process of selecting social tools is the starting point for many organisations and can take months to reach a conclusion, especially within large organisations with highly complex IT environments. While the development of clear objectives and use cases will undoubtedly help focus the debate away from technology and more towards human behaviour, they will not guarantee engagement and continued use. Although there is no doubt that adoption will increase if the chosen tools are easy and enjoyable to use, the usability of these platforms and the processes to support them are most often treated as an after-thought. There needs to be a certain degree of ‘WOW factor’ associated with the way these tools are presented and launched in order that employees sit up and take notice. One of the world’s leading design companies, IDEO, created a social platform that achieved an adoption rate of 96% - mainly because they dedicated a lot of time and effort to improving the usability of the tools. This example highlights the need to go about the design and implementation of these tools with the same vigour as you would for any external facing digital platform. 2 Put the right frameworks in place Focus on existing and latent employee needs or behaviours. Develop tools such a way that they don’t jar with existing work practices. A. B. C.
  10. 10. Social Employee Engagement 7 Create a launch plan You usually find there is a certain amount of trepidation among large swathes of employees that ultimately discourages them from participating in the early stages of an internal social collaboration programme. Some will be naturally shy and won’t be comfortable sticking their heads above the parapet. Others, due to traditional organisational hierarchies, will find it difficult to engage in conversation with more senior colleagues. You therefore need to develop spaces where engagement can take place, such as forums or collaborative spaces (although physical events may also be useful), and start with the people that are most likely to adopt and use the new technologies and processes. Identify those that are going to champion the use of the tools - the employees in your organisation that are well connected and therefore play an important role in changing the behaviour of others - and get them involved early on in the process. Measure, review and adapt There are a number of simple ways to measure levels of adoption of social tools within your organisation: Performance: Number of active members, number of ‘readers’ versus ‘contributors’, number of communities, overall pages views etc. Practices: Number of comments by members, amount of content published by members, level of sharing of content, types of community, types of activity within each community (e.g. discussion, sharing, networking etc.) Satisfaction: Quality of experience, level of interest, perceived benefit to individuals (e.g. personal branding, knowledge management, team building, number of decisions taken related to a discussion generated through the platform) However, there is a danger in using adoption as the key metric by which to judge the success of social software. Develop on-going communications Relationships take time to develop. They require understanding, commitment and nurturing. Initially your employees will need help in building and managing communities. As with any form of internal communications, what you say and how you say it is critical to the way your employees perceive your social engagement initiatives. You must strive to communicate in a credible and memorable manner in order to motivate them to use the tools - firstly to improve the way they are used to working and then to adopt totally new ways of working (so they become as natural as using email). The role of the community manager is crucial in teaching employees how to collaborate with others. They should proactively start polls, post ideas, ask thought-provoking questions and start new groups. 3 Encourage adoption and engagement Focus on using creative adoption strategies and techniques, both online and offline, that will inspire employees to use the tools and change behaviours. A. B. C. The role of the community manager is crucial in teaching employees how to collaborate with others. They should proactively start polls, post ideas, ask thought-provoking questions and start new groups. “ “
  11. 11. Social Employee Engagement 8 As Susan Etlinger eloquently describes in her blog article ‘Three Principles for Measuring the Value of Enterprise Social Networks’, we need to recognise that there are certain vagaries to consider when thinking about how to measure the value of social networks inside the organisation, rather than outside: • Employees don’t have the same freedom to interact with an organisation as a consumer might • Your identity within an organisation is well known and rarely changes so there is nowhere to hide • As most employees have a specific focus to their jobs, their need for collaboration and levels of engagement may vary considerably depending on their role 3 Encourage adoption and engagement Focus on metrics that will keep everyone happy. Also, as pointed out in a recent report from Deloitte, the focus should be on operating metrics as they focus on something that everyone cares about. For example, improvements to operating metrics will provoke managers to use social tools and encourage their employees to as well. Employees will use them more when they understand how they can help them improve their performance (and be recognised and rewarded for doing so). And finally, as executives realise the knock-on effect to financial performance, they will also be encouraged to adopt and support the use of social tools within the organisation. Motivational alignment across tiers Managers Executives Employees Motivation Operating Metrics Financial metrics Work Efficiently Whatever framework you choose, naturally the most important aspect of measurement is what you do with the results and how well you use the data to evolve your efforts in the most effective way. As with any business initiative that requires cultural change, social collaboration will not happen overnight. It needs to be worked at. It needs to focus on communication. It needs to have employee engagement at its heart. Written by Dean Parker Digital Consultant, SAS Deloitte LLP Social software for business performance The missing link in social software: Measurable business performance improvements
  12. 12. Social Employee Engagement 9Our experts Anthony Poncier Social Business Director, MSLGROUP EMEA Anthony has worked for 12 years in the field of collaboration management. He holds a PhD and Master’s Degree in strategic management and competitive intelligence. His expertise covers Change Management and Organisational Transformation associated with social collaboration for large multi-national corporations. Anthony has published many articles and books on the subject of enterprise social networks and collaboration, and is a regular online columnist and speaker at Enterprise 2.0 conferences. Henjo Guitjens CEO, MSL Netherlands Henjo works now for more than 25 years in the field of communications consultancy. He specialises in the combination of Reputation Management and Employee Engagement. Henjo is also an experienced storyteller. Being an international awarded scriptwriter for corporate videos and Creative Director for many years at the MSL Group, he strongly believes in the power of words and images to inspire people. Henjo has created projects for companies including Philips, Rabobank, Randstad International, GDF-SUEZ, AXA and AKZO Nobel. Stanislas Magniant Head of Digital, MSLGROUP EMEA A professional with over 10 years of experience in Europe and the US in the field of online advocacy strategies for corporate and public affairs clients. Prior to his current position, Stanislas supervised the development of a social media analysis and opinion research firm in the US. He is an assiduous blogger and frequent commentator on the impact of new technologies on social and political communications. He has led projects for L’Oréal, AXA, Air Liquide, Sécurité Routière, Ferrero and Saint Gobain. Leslie Rogers Senior Consultant, Talent Communications, SAS Leslie is a senior consultant focusing on Employee Engagement and Employer Reputation, with specific focus on social technology and behaviour. She has worked on internal communications and employee attraction programmes for over seven years. In her role, Leslie works with multinational organisations to generate audiene insights that inform strategies to attract, retain and engage talented people. Recent clients include Airbus, BP, Bupa, Ernst & Young, GSK and Unilever. Jason Frank Managing Director, SAS Jason has worked in marketing communications for over 14 years. His experience encompasses research, strategy and implementation with a particular emphasis on employer branding and communications. He has been responsible for evolving SAS’s employer branding offer over the last seven years to reflect audience and client requirements. His clients have included the likes of KPMG, Freshfields, BDO Stoy Hayward and BT. Dean Parker Digital Consultant, SAS Dean has over 15 years’ communications industry experience across digital strategy, interaction design and user experience. He has advised on and led projects for clients across a wide range of platforms and technologies. At SAS his clients have included GlaxoSmithKline, 3i, BP, BBA Aviation, Aviva, Diageo, KPMG Sainsbury’s, Ernst & Young, Slaughter and May, World Economic Forum, Strutt & Parker, Standard Chartered Bank and Land Securities. Dean leads our expertise in digital strategy and communications and is passionate about developing creative solutions that help organisations solve reputation, behaviour and revenue focused challenges.
  13. 13. Social Employee Engagement 10References 1. The social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies McKinsey Global Institute Report, July 2012 2. 16th Annual Global CEO Survey ‘ Leading Through Volatility’, PWC, 2013 3. “Atos boss Thierry Breton defends his internal e-mail ban” BBC, December 6, 2012 4. ‘Engagement at Risk: Driving Strong Performance in a Volatile Global Environment’ (Global Workforce Study) 2012, Towers Watson 5. IBM ‘Leading Through Connections’ Global CEO Study 6. IBM Study November 2012: ‘Investments in Social Technologies Climb, While Middle Management Struggles with Uptick’ 7. Deloitte LLP report: ‘Social software for business performance’ 2011
  14. 14. About SAS SAS helps organisations to solve business critical communications issues. We never lose sight of the fact that human beings sit at the heart of every challenge our clients face – so memorable creativity is just as important as smart strategy. We’re a team of 90 specialists, helping clients such as BT, Ernst & Young, GlaxoSmithKline, Lilly and The Coca-Cola Company to engage their employees and make the right digital choices. SAS is part of MSLGROUP, Publicis Groupe’s flagship strategic communications and engagement network. For more information contact Louise Barfield or Victoria Sugg on +44 (0)20 7243 3232 or email or