The days when work meant everyone turning up to an office and spending the same hours there as everyone else are rapidly disappearing. Flexible hours, an increasingly digital workplace and home working are becoming more and more common. That’s great for employee morale and productivity but can cause some problems when it comes to getting messages out and keeping everyone up to date. This is particularly important for HR departments who may find themselves losing touch with employees who rarely come into the office during normal business hours.
Fortunately, there’s an answer out there in the shape of corporate social networking. These pieces of intranet software make it much easier to build rapport and good relations between employees who rarely see each other face to face. However, setting one up and getting people to use it can be difficult. In this article, we’ll outline the advantages that a corporate social network can offer to your HR department and outline a few tips that can help drive up adoption of your chosen system.
The key area in which a corporate social network on your intranet software beats mass emails is that it allows open two-way conversation. If people bother to reply to emails from HR or other corporate functions (and let’s face it, few people do) they either send a reply to only one person, which means there’s no opportunity for collaboration, or they create the email thread from hell as everyone taps ‘Reply All’ and jumps on the bandwagon. A digital workplace with a corporate social network avoids all of these problems as staff are able to dip in and out of conversations as they please and there’s no risk of email inboxes being clogged up with nonsense. It’s also much easier to run polls, add pictures and videos and other pieces of rich media than it is using a traditional email system.
The informality of corporate social media systems is also a great advantage if you use it properly. It makes it easier to build good rapport and relations between people and departments who may not see each other regularly, if they do at all. While it’s important that everyone continues to behave in a professional manner (your intranet software is an extension of the workplace after all) there’s no harm in allowing a little bit of fun. Cake recipes, the odd picture of someone’s dog and discussions of weekend plans should all be welcome in your digital workplace.
This is another place where the informality of social networks shines through. Anything sent in an official corporate communication tends to put people on their guard and you may not get the type of response that you’re looking for. Asking for ideas informally on a social network will often get you far more insightful ideas that you can flesh out into more developed ideas later on. Your digital workplace could be the foundation of an idea that totally revolutionises the way that your business works. What matters is that you understand where the social network fits into your overall corporate processes.
How to drive engagement
Social network systems like this can be very useful, but it’s also possible to spend large amounts of money rolling out a system that then has tumbleweed blowing through it if you’re not able to get buy-in from your employees. Fortunately, there are many ways to get around this problem.
The first piece of advice we’d give you is to post interesting content yourself. Nobody is going to use your corporate social network if it simply reposts information that they’re already receiving elsewhere. This might mean that you have to put quite a lot of work into the social network yourself in the early days but, if you get it right, you should be able to step back and let the staff run things themselves at a later date.
We’d also suggest that you don’t drown your employees in rules and regulations about how the intranet is used. As far as possible, you should ask employees to use their common sense in your digital workplace. It’s simply an extension of your own office and people should behave with the same level of professionalism as they do face to face. Beyond that, try not to impose many more rules or you risk strangling the success of your corporate social network.
Follow this advice when rolling out your corporate social network and you should be able to build a place where people share useful information that builds rapport and benefits people across the company. A good network should improve productivity, boost retention and generally make your business a happier and more interesting place to work.
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