“Digital transformations, economic uncertainty and political tensions have led to much disruption and change. As such, organizational design and change management remain a top priority for CHROs, especially now, as organizations are seeing the fallout of too much change and uncertainty.”
Source: Gartner: What Will HR Focus on in 2023?
So how can you keep employee engagement high in an environment that might see changes, lay-offs, and downsizing? At NextNovate we think a vibrant social platform is a vital tool in the backpack of any HR and Internal Communication team. 2023 will be the year that these platforms can really add value. If utilized properly.
Why? Because humans are social beings. It matters who we work with in groups, teams, and organizations. To work effectively together, requires trust. Trust is built through shared experience and knowledge of the people around you. But in the busy world of work, we often don’t get time to connect like that. During the pandemic, people moved into back-to-back online meetings. This took away some of that social time we used to have. For example at the coffee machine before heading to the meeting, or in the doorway and corridors as you leave the meeting. Whether it’s a quick hello or ‘how are you?’, this all helps to build the social bonds which connect us. For many, moving to digital-first meetings meant this was lost.
When we look at our clients, the ones with award-winning employee engagement are those that have embraced social platforms to support connection. How did they do this? These tips will help you copy their success.
1: Let people connect outside of their role
Successful organizations understand that their teams are made up of diverse individuals, all with interests outside of work. By giving people common spaces on your social platform, you can help colleagues who work in different areas with finding connections and bonds. When it comes to working together, those connections (how small they may seem) help breaks down the initial barriers. Allowing everyone to be more open can lead to more trust.
This is the power of social platforms like Workplace from Meta and Happeo. Tools focused on decentralized networks of people finding information, and connecting people. Allowing everyone to share their thoughts and ideas. And communicate what they’re working on across an organization. Some people see social platforms as being mainly cute cat pictures, whereas reality shows social, personal, and not-work-related content actually building and strengthening your company’s human networks. The same networks that the organization will rely on to collaborate, innovate and implement your strategy.
We also see clients celebrating diversity on their social platforms. For some, this means celebrating the religious seasons of Ramadan, Diwali, or Christmas. For others, this means celebrating the World Cup. A social platform can be the place where people unite, and celebrate all kinds of (work) events.
2: Use asynchronous communication to allow a better life balance
What we’ve learned from the COVID years is that the more traditional methods of working have often come into conflict with people’s personal lives. The daily commute, and the fixed 9-to-5 working hours: all have been challenged by the pandemic. Many people have taken the opportunity to take a step back and look at what is really important to them.
Indeed, the European Great Place to Work 2022 Report highlights:
“Employees worldwide have left their jobs in search of fulfillment and purpose, respect and appreciation, and better work-life balance”
Social platforms allow for more asynchronous communication, which doesn’t occur at the same time. This allows more flexibility. People can respond when it works for them, rather than feeling the need to respond immediately. Communicating on a social platform can also mean others can respond, without long emails back and forth being created.
Our clients with an internationally dispersed workforce were already used to asynchronous communication, but with a social platform the teams can see and plan campaigns that ‘follow the sun’. Keeping conversations going throughout the day helps reinforce the ‘one team’ and connectedness of colleagues separated by time zones.
3: Don’t share your values as a company, live them
If you have your values as a poster on the wall, great. But how do you actually live these values? Social platforms provide a space for leaders to show their values in action. A video from a leader, a post sharing their thoughts: social platforms allow leaders to have more informal conversations with colleagues en masse. Internal Communications (IC) teams will need to support their leaders with this, but most tools offer the ability to post on behalf of and allow the IC team to pick up the ‘technical’ work if that’s a step too far for leadership. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way, that’s why we offer (white-glove) training specifically aimed at leadership teams.
Leaders can scan the platform, spot things that resonate, and provide a reaction or a comment. Both of these will highlight to employees they are seen (and supported) by leaders. Those more advanced leaders can also curate and share the things they’ve seen in wider forums to highlight good practices, new initiatives, and behaviors that align with the company’s values.
Our customers know that the most active leaders see the most engagement. Their behavior is modeled by their teams.
4: Use the power of your community
If your social platform is being used effectively, it will also give you valuable insights into what your colleagues are thinking. HR and leaders can use functionalities like polls and short surveys to gather input. Are you running a town hall meeting to announce some major changes? Ask the community what questions they have ahead of time. Yes, you might get some challenging questions. Now the internal comms team and leaders can proactively tackle these head-ons, rather than having to react to the question in a live setting.
When you’re facing a challenging business climate, crowdsource solutions by asking your colleagues for input. Or showcase those individuals or teams who are embracing the challenge and finding innovative solutions.
Many of our clients in Internal communication and HR are taking on the role of community manager, curating content and keeping conversations going, rather than simply drafting content or policies. We believe a good platform stimulates social interaction and conversation, rather than a one-way type of communication, which almost always leads to a platform nobody really wants to use.
5: Recognise your colleagues
A quick post showing your appreciation for a colleague or team is one way to make people feel seen and special. Leaders can set an example and model behavior. It takes a small effort but can have a great impact.
Social platforms won’t create an engaged culture, but they will amplify it. So HR and internal communication teams need to make sure leaders are comfortable with using the tools now, so if and when the company faces challenges, they don’t revert to more traditional forms of communication which might, temporarily, feel safe.
2023 could well be a challenging year for most organizations. The macroeconomic situation changes. Some industries have a harder time with hiring stops, layoffs, and overall staff shortages continue. Amplifying your engaged culture can help reduce unrest, and keep the focus on positive things that help your organization thrive, regardless of difficult times.