21 SEP, 2015

Are You Letting Fear Limit Your Employee Engagement Efforts?

Is your mom on Facebook? Mine is, and she’s more active than I am. The need to be social, meaning sharing thoughts and events with our friends, casual acquaintances, co-workers, and even strangers with mutual interests online is no longer exclusive to just millennials or Gen Z’ers. How annoyed are you when you find out a company you are interested in buying something from doesn’t have an online presence—whether it’s an updated website, product reviews, or social media profiles?

If you think your employees don’t feel the same about your company, you’re wrong. Employees want the same abilities to interact, communicate and get information at work. Yet we come across the objections below all the time when we demo the social capabilities of the WorkStride platform.

“We don’t want our employees wasting time talking to each other on social media.”

“We are afraid our employees will say inappropriate things if we open up a forum for them to give feedback and share comments.”

“Many of our employees are not tech savvy or don’t have internet/email access.”

Our responses usually sound like this:

  • Allowing your employees a way to communicate with each other and give and receive recognitions is time well-spent (and if you check the site analytics, it’s rarely more than 5 to 10 minutes per day at companies with the most active programs).
  • If an employee is using profanity or posting things that you are ashamed of as a company, that’s an immediate call to action: examine whether it’s simply a training opportunity or whether this is an employee who perhaps should not be a part of your organization. (I will also add that we hear about this actually happening about .001 percent of the time.) If they are posting constructive criticism, that is incredibly valuable information.
  • Really?! What percentage of employees at your company do not have an internet-enabled smart phone, even if they don’t work on a computer all day?

What companies should really be saying is:

“If we don’t empower our employees by providing a forum for communication and recognition, we are wasting a huge opportunity to build a positive company culture and receive real-time feedback.”

Organizations that think this way see better employee engagement that is built through the creation of a positive company culture with open communication, transparency, and peer recognition. They are also active in looking at the analytics around these communications to see what is important to their employees and taking action based on these insights.

Josh Bersin recently wrote a great article about how employee feedback and the applications that are collecting it are increasingly becoming the most important source of insight to management. Passive feedback from social communication is just as valuable as survey data. If you read through a ton of employee recognition comments that talk about how Angela in IT has been amazing at helping employees navigate a horrific transition to a new software system, you now know two things:

  1. 1. Angela deserves rewards and possibly a promotion.
  2. 2. You might want to look at your new software to see if it can be configured for better usability.

Chances are the same employees that wrote those positive comments would not have felt comfortable emailing the CTO with complaints about the crappy software that is making their days absolutely miserable.

Don’t let fear hold your organization back from engaging employees. Closing your eyes and ears to a criticism only means your employees are more likely to go to Glassdoor to post it. And if your company culture leaves much to be desired, those same employees may also be looking around online for better opportunities.


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