The Power Of Social Media: An Employee Engagement Project

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March 30, 2010

I’m working on an exciting project at work and I’m hoping you will want to help me.  If you’re reading this post, there is a high probability that you found my blog via social media.  If that’s the case, then I don’t have to explain that social media can be a powerful tool to help us in our day-to-day jobs.  The challenge seems to be articulating HOW it can be helpful in business.  I’m convinced that my post today may just help us all prove a point.

I work for a very forward thinking organization.  My boss and I met today to talk about employee engagement and how in many organizations, it is centered around the annual employee survey.  While the survey is certainly an important tool to show measurable results, it is only one small part of the engagement that employees feel throughout the year.  That said, I’m trying to think of ways to highlight engagement all year long.

I want to show:

  • Engagement means different things to different employees
  • If an employee is engaged, you should be able to see evidence of it every day
  • Engagement is an ongoing cycle, not an annual survey

Here’s where I’m hoping you can help.  As I wrapped up my meeting, I told my boss I would begin research on organizations that view engagement as an ongoing, daily activity. I also said I would reach out to the online community to find out what you all think about engagement.  My goal is to get as many comments from you that talk about

1) what engagement means to you

2) what can be done to promote engagement every day

3) what are ways you see organizations promoting engagement (ie. poster campaigns, videos, etc)

I’m convinced that collectively we can come up with some great ideas that I can share with my organization and YOU can share with yours.  Let’s work together to show that social media connections are powerful collaboration opportunities.

Thanks in advance for your help.

14 Comments

  • Fantastic post, Trish, and an even more important effort to find out others’ thoughts on engagement! My answers to your primary questions are below:

    1) what engagement means to you

    Engagement is the act of collaborating with someone else facilitated by communication, even if it’s just an information transfer. The key is optimizing how engaged a person is within such an interaction, as well as enticing as many others as possible to become engaged in the first place.

    2) what can be done to promote engagement every day

    The two sides of this are promoting engagement at first and then increasing the caliber of it. Both strategies rely on providing an inviting environment to provoke communication, which is the fuel that propels the forthcoming collaboration. A positive feedback loop for such communication is a key, as if someone is worried about repercussions, their engagement will be distant and inundated with the effects from power dynamics if they take part at all.

    3) what are ways you see organizations promoting engagement (ie. poster campaigns, videos, etc)

    Organizations that take a progressive tact to promoting internal communication, especially within meetings, is of the upmost importance. An especially key aspect to this is fostering the inviting environment necessary to entice diverse voices to speak out. Sadly, far too many voices are silenced far too often, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and the resulting homogenous perspectives reflect the opportunity cost of missing out on all those added diversified ideas!

  • Hi Trish, here is my quick take as I head out the door this morning . . .

    What engagement means to me? People choosing to come to work and give it their best. Engagement originates with the individual.

    What can be done to promote engagement? Respectful, professional environment, open to ideas, collaborative working relationships, challenging work assignments, recognition, a noble mission, consistent values

    Ways to promote engagement? Share success stories, recognize achievements, give credit where credit is due in award and recognition ceremonies and on internal news letters or web sites; nothing captures emotion like videos; how about company blogs or employee communities?

    This is on our local radar too so I m looking forward to see your results. Great questions.

  • Engagement is the PROACTIVE application of individual skills/talents/abilities to further the success of the organization and individual.

    Key in that is proactive – engagement requires the individual to take on the mantle/mindset of the organization and ask – WWTCD – what would the CEO do…

    Requires – clear mission/goals… clear communication of those goals… clearly identifying behaviors… training managers on how to influence behaviors toward those goals… etc., etc.,

    Engagement is daily, hourly – but variable. I can be engaged 24/7 for a while – then maybe not so much – but on average – I’m engaged.

    There is a dark side of engagement as well – that would be those that actively and proactively – work against the organization. Most surveys don’t measure or identify that problem. But managers usually can.

    Good luck!

  • “Engagement” to me can be simple vs. complex. If employees truly enjoy what they do and know it adds value personally and to the Company, then I feel they are engaged. Also, knowing that things are going to be consistent is essential in fostering engagement.

    Daily things to promote engagement for me include: getting away from my desk to be with people, being intentional with people all the time and not vague, being empathetic while being consistent, and making sure that all levels of the company are engaged (Sr. Mgt., Middle Mgt. and the front line).

    I haven’t seen much variety around engagement that doesn’t come off like a new “program” or pep rally. We are implementing LEAN mfg. in our restaurants and two tenets of that system are: (1) Believe in your people and (2) Incremental change. Slow and steady really works because people see the change, feel the change and then make the change !!

    The one unique thing we are going to be starting is the “Jesuit Model.” This is modeled after the Jesuits who would send a family to live with a community for a few months before sending in a priest. The community had already “lived” with Jesuits and they were more welcoming of change and a new message. We plan to “live” our programs for a period of time before introducing them fully. This is different than most because I tend to see the SPLASH method of “look how great this is !!!” We are going to be Jesuits.

    Thanks for the post Trish and for the opportunity to share.

  • Engagement – when people love what they do and are great at what they do – their life is more fulfilled through work, its a calling versus a job

    How to build engagement – I always view the experience some one has at work through managers – I use an old saying “the fish stinks from the head down” – meaning if managers are not bringing the culture and magic of the organization to life, you are dead from the start, so my focus and recommendations would always start there

    good stuff – look forward to your progress

  • Hey Trish,
    Engagement is when the employees are trying to excel the business in ways that may not even be their job. They are connected to the success and mission of the company. A way to cultivate engagement daily is to promote and socialize ideas that are generated, if someone has an idea/suggestion let the company comment on it. This can also link up people with similar ideas. Of course the executive team needs to try out some of the ideas or that engagement will turn elsewhere.

  • 1) what engagement means to you
    To me, “engagement” represents a bilateral relationship that exists for an openly communicated purpose. Thus, employee engagement would mean (to me) that a relationship exists that will promote the success of the organization to include the betterment of the employees.

    2) what can be done to promote engagement every day
    Like any relationship, I think it’s success is heavily dependent honesty, integrity, and open communication.

    3) what are ways you see organizations promoting engagement (ie. poster campaigns, videos, etc)
    Similar to the premise of engagement being based on a bilateral relationship, I believe it’s in the best interest of both employer and employee to promote engagement (which, by my definition is the relationship). As an aside, I don’t think visual campaigns create any value. Open forums, open dialogue (through SM), collaboration, etc. are things that may promote engagement.

    As always, you bring great topics to the discussion!

  • Great post.

    1) what engagement means to you – engagement is about consciousness and having employees that are actively looking out for the best interest of the company.

    2) what can be done to promote engagement every day – first off is having a culture where people feel free to engage, secondly is that engagement needs to come from the top. Every day I need to engage with my people and let them see that our culture is one of sharing and promotion.

    3) what are ways you see organizations promoting engagement (ie. poster campaigns, videos, etc) I’ve seen a lot of static materials but am excited to see the trend of virtual offerings and that the market is ready and willing to accept them. Social media solutions like Collaborize help engage people in collective decision making and my company (which Microsoft recently said was one of their top choices of great new startups) uses a social media platform and rewards to encourage shifts in attitudes and behavior overtime.

    Technology is coming to the engagement space -and people are more comfortable interacting in social media spaces than ever before. Engagement is evolving beyond personal interaction into the virtual and I think people and companies are gonna like it!

  • Yep – the social media thing works and I want to thank Steve Browne for providing the link to sharing with you, Trish.

    I’ve always thought that the use of the word ‘Engagement’ has a fleeting, almost temporary connotation to it. I much prefer calling it Employee Commitment – remember the Pig & Chicken having ham & eggs for breakfast story? Chicken’s involved, Pig’s committed.

    So what does it mean? Nothing less than capturing the hearts and minds of employees in their daily work interactions. It includes things like providing exceptional customer service -exceeding expectations, whether internal or external. Communication is critical and openness to constructive criticism provides opportunity for development. Driving forces include the concept of servant-leadership and walking the talk – from the top down.

    How do you promote it every day? First I’d implement mechanisms that let employee know that they are being listened to. Supervisors must play an active role in facilitating the communication process. Conceptually simple, but putting them into practice requires knowledge of the culture, history, expectations, morals, direction, and unique environmental elements that will either enable (or kill) success. I would find those employees you deem as exhibiting the type of commitment you seek and sensitively determine what ‘makes them tick’, then take a closer look at those who are NOT committed and see if there are any polar opposite trends. I’ve found common elements are things like variety/monotony of work, impact on company direction, use of developed skills, and growth opportunity.

    As far as promotion goes, I am not that familiar with formal initiatives that have been successful in gaining employee commitment. Successes I have seen mainly come through ‘events’ that break down silos and barriers within an organization. They can be formal processes like cross-training, job-sharing, mentoring, and temporarily filling in for vacations/leaves. Or (and ones I think have more success) events that involve removing an employee from their work environment with the specific goal of informal interaction: pot-luck lunches, cook-offs, car shows, friendly/casual sporting events (bowling, Frisbee golf, wiffleball, kite flying, etc), renting a popcorn/cotton candy machine and shutting down production to show a movie, midnight shift scavenger hunt during Halloween, family day – see where mom/dad work, get the idea?

    Thanks again for allowing us to share & I look forward to hearing about your plans and successes in the future…

  • Yep – the social media thing works and I want to thank Steve Browne for providing the link to sharing with you, Trish.

    I’ve always thought that the use of the word ‘Engagement’ has a fleeting, almost temporary connotation to it. I much prefer calling it Employee Commitment – remember the Pig & Chicken having ham & eggs for breakfast story? Pig’s committed.

    So what does it mean? Nothing less than capturing the hearts and minds of employees in their daily work interactions. It includes things like providing exceptional customer service – exceeding expectations, whether internal or external. Communication is critical and openness to constructive criticism provides opportunity for development. Driving forces include the concept of servant-leadership and walking the talk – from the top down.

    How do you promote it every day? First I’d implement mechanisms that let employee know that they are being listened to. Supervisors must play an active role in facilitating the communication process. Conceptually simple, but putting them into practice requires knowledge of the culture, history, expectations, morals, direction, and unique environmental elements that will either enable (or kill) success. I would find those employees you deem as exhibiting the type of commitment you seek and sensitively determining what ‘makes them tick’, then take a closer look at those who are NOT committed and see if there are any polar opposite trends. I’ve found common elements are things like variety/monotony of work, impact on company direction, use of developed skills, and growth opportunity.

    As far as promotion goes, I am not that familiar with formal initiatives that have been successful in gaining employee commitment. Successes I have seen mainly come through ‘events’ that break down silos and barriers within an organization. They can be formal processes like cross-training, job-sharing, mentoring, and temporarily filling in for vacations/leaves. Or (and ones I think have more success) events that involve removing an employee from their work environment with the specific goal of informal interaction: pot-luck lunches, cook-offs, car shows, friendly/casual sporting events (bowling, Frisbee golf, wiffleball, kite flying, etc), renting a popcorn/cotton candy machine and shutting down production to show a movie, midnight shift scavenger hunt during Halloween, family day – see where mom/dad work, get the idea?

    Thanks again for allowing us to share & I look forward to hearing about your plans and successes in the future…

  • Communication is the key to engagement no matter how you look at it. We plan on introducing an internal social media
    engagement tool later this year. This tool will effectively allow us to communicate with the employees as they communicate
    with each other. It will be an employee idea generator. It will tell us what has and hasn’t worked in the past and help us generate
    strategies to resolve “hot” issues. We are very excited about this tool which centres around the use of communication for effective
    engagement. Looking forward to hearing more on this topic and reading what companies are doing about it. Thanks for sharing, Trish.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.

HR HAPPY HOUR LIVE! TALENT ACQUISITION & ONBOARDING

THE FUTURE OF WORK

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