At one time, companies saw social media as the “enemy” of productivity. There was a stampede of policies put into place to ensure employees did not bring the company into disrepute with their posts and pictures. And, mechanisms were created to limit opportunities for staff to use the workplace as a venue for their fascination with Facebook or their toying with Twitter.
However, there is a growing understanding that a well-formulated corporate social network is a very different beast. One that can actually serve to increase productivity.
One of the advantages of a corporate social network based on the organisation’s intranet software is that it implies a certain “freedom” of information exchange and enjoyable interaction. At the same time as being controllable.
Not least as it creates a business forum within the comfort zone and everyday world of the growing workforce of Millennials.
Social media is no longer simply a form of entertainment and “gossip”. Rightly or wrongly, today’s users value its recommendations, build their knowledge of the world from it and rely on it for bite-size news updates.
This is something many organisations need to cash in on in order to unlock more “people power”.
Palatable and interactive communications
Sometimes referred to as ESN – Enterprise Social Networks – they are sited within your intranet system. They vary, but some can enable staff to post a status, share images and chat, much as you would on an external social media site such as Facebook.
Some software enables you to follow and connect with other people within your organisation. You can also follow topics or projects of interest. Or even connect to other people with similar interests to your own.
There are potential ways to video conference and to create private or public “groups” for discussions and interaction.
Imagine taking a Millennial into a library – virtual or physical – with a list of things to research. The response may fall short of enthusiastic.
Now put them instead with a social networking environment. They are likely to feel far more comfortable and catered to. From here, they can research, ask questions, share ideas and flag up concerns and queries.
Thus, sharing knowledge and resources with colleagues happens with ease and familiarity.
The team that plays together…stays together
With the increasing amount of remote working and the need to exploit the global marketplace, organisations are basing more of their staff interaction within a digital workplace.
However, a well-constructed intranet should be more than a way of exchanging pertinent business information in real time, from any location.
Building loyalty, interest and empathy amongst a workforce does not come from firing facts and figures at them. It comes from making them feel valued, listened to and appreciated as human beings.
Which means your intranet may provide a vital tool. It should fully exploit opportunities to create a sense of community.
If you have staff at far-flung locations or always on the road, no matter how efficient your reporting and liaison systems are, they can feel isolated.
Plus, the emphasis these days is on creating synergy between teams. The leanest and most agile organisations are those in which the processes and different departments are streamlined and highly supportive of each other.
For large, complex or fragmented companies this can be particularly thorny. You can’t always find time to gather everyone for a coffee or whisk them off for a spot of paintballing to engender team spirit. What is the alternative?
The answer is a well-orchestrated corporate social network. It can be important to making your staff feel part of a cohesive “whole”.
Collaboration in the comfort zone
Some manifestations of a corporate social network are more open than others. Some companies prefer a more regimented system for sharing information and facilitating discussion.
This could include making the discussion platform specific to a project or department.
Whatever form the enterprise social network takes within your intranet software, it must provide your digital workplace with a hotbed of group liaison and task sharing.
It is not just about the mechanics of creating a secure hub for pooled data and updates. The software should help your team interact with the material and each other. Through such communication comes great ideas. It also offers the opportunity to spot and deal with potential problems at an earlier stage.
Creating ESN buy-in from employees
One common problem in introducing a corporate social network is to imagine that by its very existence, it will become a hive of conversation and collaboration. To be blunt, you can’t bring the team together within your intranet, in a warm buzz of information exchange, without first engaging them.
Forcing any new system implementation on to staff is always a risky business and even when you carefully explain its benefits, even acceptance can be slow; never mind passion and interest!
This is perhaps particularly true of corporate social networks. They can appear artificial and contrived if they are not configured and introduced in a responsive and appropriate way for your employees and workplace.
The terminology sometimes used is that you need to build “emotional capital” into your network.
Key to this is working with an intranet software supplier that understands people as well as it understands technology. And that’s exactly what Claromentis offers.
We can help you to create an enterprise social network within your intranet software, in a way that gets people talking, not stalking.
Contact us today to start the discussion.