Employee engagement is critical for organizations. A highly engaged workforce increases productivity, reduces employee turnover and ultimately impacts the bottom line. In fact, research has suggested that companies with engaged employees outperform competitors with an unengaged workforce across multiple factors, including profitability, customer ratings, and even safety incidents.
The ingredients that lead to an engaged employee are varied and complex, and include job satisfaction, level of pay, organizational reputation and individual relationships with managers.
Social intranets can also play a part in helping to engage employees. Depending on the organization and the section of the workforce, this contribution can vary from modest to significant. Here are seven ways social intranets drive employee engagement, making a positive contribution to your organization.
1. Giving employees a voice
A good social intranet provides an opportunity for all employees to publish, irrespective of their role, level of seniority or location. They can give feedback, post comments, ask questions and have their opinions heard.
In some organizations with a ‘traditional’ or hierarchical culture, a social intranet can be a radical step. Giving all employees a voice sends a powerful message that their opinions are valued by senior management and that the workforce is trusted. Heightened levels of trust and listening are characteristics of an organization where employee engagement is moving in the right direction.
2. Making jobs easier and increasing capability
The contribution of intranets to engagement is usually associated with communications-led initiatives, but it’s important to remember that intranets also make basic tasks easier and jobs less frustrating. That’s engaging in itself, as it can remove daily annoyances and even transform some roles, allowing staff to focus on more interesting and value-added activities. By lessening the daily grind, engagement is increased.
Intranets also help increase individual capabilities and enablement by facilitating access to training resources and connecting individuals to experts they can learn from. This in turn helps make jobs easier and increases personal skills.
3. Driving personal connections and a sense of community
One of the goals of a social intranet should be to drive personal connections between employees across the entire company, irrespective of location. Strong connections between individuals means stronger, more unified teams and a stronger network. Most importantly, it can help develop a sense of community and even create friendships.
Interacting with colleagues in this way helps to establish a ‘one-company culture’, particularly for global companies. A sense of community in the workplace is always a highly positive outcome.
4. Getting to know your leaders better
An important ingredient of employee engagement is respect for the leadership of an organization. However, a common problem in larger organizations is that the leaders can feel distant from the average employee.
Social intranets help employees get to know their leaders better and see the real human being behind any corporate façade. Using video, blogs, interviews and direct interaction with employees, senior leaders can be themselves and build up a rapport with the workforce. A better understanding of where leaders are coming from, along with demonstrating honesty and transparency, helps to build respect among employees.
5. Transparency and accountability
Social intranets, where everybody in the company has access to much of the same information, really help create transparency. When you allow questions to be asked about that information through commenting and discussions, the transparency is amplified.
Being transparent helps to drive a culture of accountability. There are multiple benefits to this, many of which influence employee engagement. These include heightened levels of trust between employees and management, establishing a ‘level playing field’, and creating a meritocracy and more professional organization.
6. Flexibility and autonomy
A key ingredient of engagement is giving employees some choice over how, when and where they work. Having some autonomy and flexibility to suit individual preferences and circumstances can be highly significant for how happy a person is in their work.
While this is not always possible for every role, a social intranet that can be accessed externally by employees definitely extends choices. A good intranet should help you to access key information and communicate effectively with people from any location, 24/7. This can be a huge bonus for employees, for instance, those with children or older folks to care for, allowing them to effectively balance life and work.
7. Let your employees have fun on the intranet
Unless your organization has a very formal and serious culture, a social intranet can help lighten everyone’s day. Using appropriate humor in communications or focusing on light and fun stories can make a corporate intranet feel just that little bit less corporate.
Other approaches include adding photos of social events and encouraging users to join non-business communities such as social groups, or groups sharing non-business content, e.g. recipes. You can also help encourage participation by running competitions and light-hearted polls. These might seem like little things, but having fun at work absolutely helps to achieve a more engaged workforce.
Intranets are effective
Intranets rock at engaging employees in multiple ways. Of course part of this is because they reflect other things going on within the organization, but also because they extend choice and drive dialogue.
If you want to improve levels of employee engagement in your company, then a social intranet is an excellent investment and a great step towards making your organization a happier, more positive and more engaging place to work.