Improving employee experience through engaging internal platforms

While most organizations are going overboard to engage their customers and offer services using social tools and technologies, they are being equally skeptical to using them internally assuming that it negatively affects the productivity of their employees. With the skyrocketing use of social and mobile tools amongst people, it is important to understand that employees expect similar experiences when they step into the workplace. This massive invasion of collaboration, networking and mobile gadgets also provides opportunities for new possibilities for “socializing” the workplace.

Many organizations equate having a good knowledge management system or an intranet to having a greatly engaged employee community, this is not true! Despite industry best practices there will always be a lot of un-captured knowledge which is transmitted through informal means of communications like chats and conversations. Organizations should look to channelize such engagements through well designed internal collaboration solutions to improve the overall productivity.

The Biggest Mistake
Organizations often have intranets and other internal collaboration tools or applications, but are always found to be doing it wrong – provided they are doing anything. It is usually found that the approach taken is a piecemeal one, wherein employees are provided tools to support their different needs. This creates a disaggregated experience that is not even close to engaging the employees. Disparate tools will only confuse employees and cause them to rely more on their personal interactions rather than digital interactions. With so many external resources available, there is also a potential risk that the employees won’t like what the organization has to offer and initiate their own social platforms, like creating Google or Skype groups, sharing documents and collaborating in cloud just because it is easy and convenient. This can lead to a numerous issues over intellectual property, data privacy, governance and regulatory requirements.

Creating the right platform and designing the experience to engage and hook your employees
There are numerous platforms which offer tools to promote internal collaboration and communication like file sharing, search, wikis, blogs, message boards/forums, micro blogging etc. However, the keyword here is designing employee “Experience”. It’s certainly not an easy task for an organization to create a holistic and engaging experience, as there are plenty of roadblocks to tackle. But, with so many success stories coming forth from the ever expanding and omnipresent social networking sites, there is a lot to take away to internally replicate those experiences for the employees.

Another very important point to consider is the evolution of the employee workforce and the ability of any strategy/system to be able to support culturally diverse people from the more conservative Gen X, the liberal Gen Y and the ultra-social Gen Z (digitally “connected”, social sharing, telecommuting, access to unprecedented information). All of these employees are in different places in terms of their creativity, self-expression, contributions, social belonging and sharing. It is imperative for organizations to define experiences using the tools to try and engage each of them in a way that maximizes the effect of their interactions.

It would be more optimal to ask a more experienced Gen X resource to contribute regularly to blogs or wikis and schedule knowledge sharing through online expert chat (Q&A) sessions. The Gen Y can manage your message boards and forums to try to engage and address any issues the newer and lesser experienced workforce may face. They can definitely help others find the right information at the right time. Gen Z can network within the organization through topic subscriptions or by following their senior colleagues and of course, making all the data they need accessible from their mobile devices. And above all, if you provide your employees with real-time data through feeds and notifications, their capability to serve the clients and deliver deep and timely insights will greatly improve.

Employee adoption
The adoption of these tools or applications should not be forced on to the employees. It will always be more successful if your employees are allowed to experience it for themselves and then try to bring in more of their colleagues. Start it as a pilot with a group and let it go viral. Gamification of the referral program may entice your employees to bring in more of their team members. Just like customers being more inclined to buy services or products based on their friends’ reviews, the employees will adopt and get hooked to your platform if they hear from their peers.

In conclusion, under-investment in building an engaging internal platform will leave organizations significantly behind their competition in terms of innovation as well as growth. A measured approach to properly assess on what services or apps employees need and how to engage them is the first step in the right direction.

Would be great if you can join the conversation and share your thoughts and perspectives on the evolving employee experience paradigm.

Ram Sandeep Ayyagari

Manager - Business Consulting, Virtusa. Ram is a manager in the business consulting group with 8 years of experience in the Software Technology Services sector. He is currently focused on building Virtusa’s services, solutions and capabilities around the Community and Social Media for customers. Ram has also worked on solutions around other service lines such as Web Content Management (WCM), Portals, Collaboration, Document Management, Document Composition/Delivery and Marketing Resource Management (MRM). He has worked with customers across multiple verticals including Media & Entertainment, Equity Research, Insurance, Legal & Compliance, Energy & Utilities, Banking and Telecom. Ram holds a post graduate diploma in Business Management from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) with specialization in Systems and Marketing.

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