I’ve long been a fan of social media for the purposes of research, information sharing, and relationship building. It’s also a perfect solution for knowledge sharing. The social intranet or employee social network is defined as an internal platform where all employees can author content and connect easily. These corporate social networking platforms offer a variety of engagement and productivity benefits from employee brainstorming, increased collaboration, knowledge transfer from older more tenured workers to new employees, as well as comfort for the virtual worker.
This sort of enabling technology can have an effect on employee satisfaction levels, which are surprisingly low and can create a major drag on company performance and the economy as a while.
Corporate Social Networking & the US Economy
Lost employee productivity and employee disengagement costs the US economy $370 billion every year. Employee disengagement at an organization happens a number of different ways including boredom, job fit, managers, unclear expectations and lack of connection to colleagues and the company itself. In 2008, Aberdeen Group Research published a report that evaluated blogs, wikis, and other social networking tools as a method to improving employee engagement. Their findings saw that of researched companies those with internal social networking platforms saw an 18% improvement in employee engagement scores during the course of a year, compared to only a 1% increase for companies without such tools.
Yes, Aberdeen’s data and research is a little old and yes, corporate social media networks are not the end all be all solutions. The year 2008 was a lifetime ago in terms of social media. And yet forward thinking companies were already adding employee social networks to their corporate intranet structures as a way to build relationships and strengthen employee engagement. One company, ThoughtFarmer has put together quite the comprehensive white paper cataloguing the benefits of an employee social network. Their white paper titled, “Social Intranets & Employee Engagement” provides the most comprehensive list of statistics, information, and resources to date. You can also download a copy and take a look for yourself.
For those of you considering a social intranet or enterprise social networking, the ThoughtFarmer white paper may be a resource you can hand to your senior managers and executives to help make the business case.
NASA & Employee Social Media
Once forward thinking company who has embraced the social intranet is NASA. They created their corporate social networking tool, Spacebook in June 2009. The concept was developed by a team of NASA millennial interns as the government agency was struggling with a way to retain the younger Generation Y workers while also sharing knowledge as their more senior engineers were beginning to retire.
I first heard NASA speak about their Spacebook employee social network in November of 2009 at an Information Technology conference. They were ahead of their time and other companies began following suit and in very conservative industries like AT&T and The Hartford Group.
Social Media Networks & Employee Social Media
Social Media Networks help aid in the sharing of information, learning, and communication by making it easy for any employee to publish content and connect. All of this is essential to an engaged and productive workforce. As work goes from more face to face to online, it’s critical that companies have a intuitive and welcoming intranet in which to share that information. That is exactly where a social intranet can help.
Many HR managers feel under the gun to improve employee engagement, but with very limited tools. A social intranet, if implemented carefully and with full executive support, may support lasting employee engagement in this online, digital age.
Is your organization using an employee social network? If so, what is it and how is it helping keeping you and your employee peers engaged?