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    Ready, Set, Motivate: How to Engage Your Employees

    According to research by the Hay Group, engaged employees are up to 43% more productive than disengaged employees.  A Towers Watson study showed that highly engaged organizations improved 19.2% in operating income while low engagement organizations saw a 32.7% decrease. These numbers are significant but they aren’t useful if your organization doesn’t understand how to motivate and engage your employees.
    MotivatingEmployees

    While different employees will have individual motivators, there are some factors that will engage the majority of workers. Employees have an inherent desire to be connected with their organization. They want to do worthwhile work and feel valuable to the business. Workers often feel this way during the first six months of employment, which is referred to as the honeymoon period. In fact, research by Gallup shows that employees are at their peak engagement levels during this initial six months. Organizations should use this time wisely to get to know new employees and help them connect with their new coworkers and the company’s mission and values. A simple way to do this is with a social solution. Managers can get to know their employees and new hires can start learning about the organization and meet coworkers from day one. By consistently using social software, these connections between coworkers and between employees and their managers can continue to grow along with engagement.

    Employees also crave rewards and recognition for their hard work. While financial incentives are nice, recognition from direct managers and from the leadership team are equivalent if not greater motivators, according to a McKinsey survey. With social, it’s easy for managers to recognize their employees and it also enables peer recognition. Share the story of how an employee supported your efforts or closed a major deal and let everyone acknowledge the success.

    Motivation is not one size fits all. Think about your organization’s culture and the type of motivators that your employees will respond to, given that culture. If you’re trying to create an open, transparent organization, use social to learn about your employees, build relationships, and give recognition for achievements to increase motivation and engagement in your company.

    How to Avoid the Information Overload Headache

    When employees go through training, especially when starting at a new role in a new company, they often suffer from a feeling of brain freeze, not unlike the sensation of eating a big bite of ice cream too quickly. Instead of consuming their frozen treats too fast, too much information is being thrown at them with not enough time to take it in. When this overload happens, employees lose sight of what they actually need to retain to succeed in their roles. How do you get employees successfully trained, without leaving them feeling overwhelmed?

    While it may seem efficient to cram employees into a classroom and try and teach them everything they need to know over a multi-day training session, it isn’t. It’s fast, but not effective. Employees may retain bits and pieces of information, but they’re more likely to be bored, frustrated, or just overwhelmed.Frustrated Businessman Sitting At Desk In Office Using Laptop

    Training sessions can be useful but they shouldn’t be the only resource. Allow employees to study ahead of time and review what they learn in the classroom by creating a resource repository that they can access anytime, anywhere.

    Classroom learning is great, because it functions as a forum for peer-peer discussions as well as one for conversations between the instructor and learners. In order to prevent information overload and help employees retain and understand the knowledge they’ve acquired, help them continue these conversations outside the classroom (or virtual classroom). A social solution can be this forum. Let employees ask questions and get answers specifically related to knowledge in the resource repository you set up. This creates a culture of learning within your organization, in which employees are learning how to be more effective and are continuously engaged during their regular work day.

    Don’t let your employees get overwhelmed with new information. With social, you can support and enhance their training by connecting them to the right knowledge and right people.

    Creating an Open, Transparent Organization through Social

    It’s not easy for executives to connect with employees, especially in larger organizations. It’s difficult to be in touch with employees’ thoughts, wants, and needs and employees may not share this information because they feel constrained by organizational hierarchies.  Employees want to be involved in company decisions but may not feel comfortable expressing their opinions. When major company decisions and changes are relayed by out of the blue emails, this broadens the divide between the leadership team and other employees.Social Media Key

    Not only can social break down the walls between departments, but a social solution can help break down the hierarchies too. Turning one-way communication into meaningful discussions between executives and employees isn’t a quick change. These conversations should occur on a regular basis so when a major business decision or change arises, there is already a strong foundation of honesty and transparency across the organization. It can be hard to build those relationships, especially in bigger companies and ones spread across the globe.

    Social software allows you to build relationships and transparency easily and naturally. Instead of just asking questions to your close colleagues, send out a signal and let other employees share their knowledge. You can also share what you’re working on, allow employees to do the same, and even offer feedback to one another. You not only get to learn more about your employees, but allow them to connect with you and show what they know, which lets them recognize how valuable they are to the organization.

    Over time, these interactions won’t be something you have to remind yourself to do; they’ll become a part of how you connect to your workforce and get work done.

    Don’t Get Stuck, Get Social

    Getting stuck in your own world, or in this case, your department, happens all too often. You focus on your own department’s tasks and projects, and forget about the bigger picture of what’s happening inside the whole company. This becomes problematic when a project requires a cross-functional team, but can also hinder the company’s innovation.

    The departments you rely on to get work done might be right by your side, or they could be across the country in a separate office. It’s not hard to see how these silos are created; you get wrapped up in your own work and forget about how important transparency and collaboration are within an organization. Once you recognize these silos and decide to break them down, you can use social to remove them.Collab across dept

    A social solution brings experts from different departments together, so they can work together to brainstorm, solve challenges, and complete projects successfully. You can start this process by launching projects within the social workspaces. Let’s say you’re working on a document. You have a rough draft, but could use some different perspectives and expertise from other departments. Post the rough draft and then signal to specific groups or all team members to give feedback and suggestions. Think of the workspace as a digital whiteboard; together, you work in real-time to brainstorm ideas, share feedback, and revise the document. This gives you access to the expertise and advice you might otherwise have missed. You can complete the project faster, since you don’t have to wait for individuals to sift through their inboxes to find and respond to the right email with the right attachment.

    If you’re not working on a long-term project, but rather, have an idea that could use some quick feedback and opinions, let your coworkers know. Send out a signal with your idea or questions, and watch the conversation develop as the subject matter experts contribute their thoughts. Subject matter experts want to share their knowledge with coworkers, so give them that opportunity by bringing them into the conversation.

    In order to stay ahead of the curve, companies need to collaborate and work together to brainstorm new ideas and drive innovation. Working across offices and departments makes collaboration more difficult, but with social, these brainstorming sessions can happen easily and in real-time. You might not be able to gather your colleagues around a physical whiteboard to hold these collaboration sessions, but social gives you the digital alternative so you can still get the help you need to get work done.

    Stop Talking at Your Employees and Start Creating Discussions

    Dear Employees,

    We’ve decided to switch to a new insurance carrier. Effective immediately, our coverage is through the CS Association. Please read the attached PDF document to learn more about this change.

    Jane Smith, VP Human Resources

    This is the classic example of one-way communication that happens in many companies. Out of the blue, your employees receive an email announcing a change, like a new insurance carrier or a new technology implementation, and that’s it. There’s no chance to ask questions, no way to easily discuss how to best handle the situation. The message is loud and clear: this is happening, deal with it.Dictionary Series - Marketing: communication

    While some policies and changes are not up for debate, they can still be up for discussion. Your employees will be more responsive to any updates if they understand what’s going to be different and why. This is the advantage two-way communication has over one-way communication: it creates a conversation and leads to better understanding. If you want employees to adapt to new policies, give them the chance to participate in making the change.

    With employees spread across offices, starting a discussion around a change isn’t as easy as just holding a meeting. Social can help make the switch from one-way communication to actual conversations. Announcements can be signaled in the activity stream where people can then ask questions, offer comments, and receive answers. You still control the way the message is distributed but employees can take an active interest in the announcement, and not just quickly delete it from their inbox.

    If you really want to engage employees, give them the chance to participate in the change process. If you’re implementing a new policy, use social to create a document in a workspace, and let employees share their viewpoints and contribute to formalizing the policy. You’ll receive valuable input, new ideas, and your employees will be more active in making the change successful. You’re not relinquishing control; you’re just creating more transparency and opening the door to feedback. The decision is yours, you are just letting your employees fill in some of the details.

    Instead of making announcements, start discussions with your employees. You’ll have a better understanding of their viewpoints and they’ll appreciate you offering transparency into the organization.

    Goodbye Boring Orientation, Hello Social Onboarding

    Think back to your first few weeks on the job. What were your challenges? Did you find it difficult to define the company culture?

    Companies typically onboard in one of two ways: either they have a very formalized, rigid structure or it’s the exact opposite with no real process at all. When there is no formal onboarding program, new employees must find the information and resources they need on their own. They have little support to transition into their new roles which leaves them feeling lost, increasing the time it takes to reach productivity. Not to mention, you don’t want your employees to feel alone and unsure of their roles, or those new hires might start looking for new jobs. You don’t want a new employee having second thoughts after the first week, especially when it could have easily been prevented with better onboarding.Socialonboardingsmallerimg

    The formal onboarding process provides a lot of policy, but not a lot of job specific knowledge. You’ve probably been through this type of onboarding before: you sit through orientation sessions with dozens of other new hires, try not to fall asleep during the lengthy PowerPoint presentations, and worst of all, any relevant information is lost because the sessions aren’t documented. The free lunch you get is nice, but it really won’t help you understand the company or your role better.

    Onboarding should be much more than just orientation. The goal is to introduce new employees to the company, culture, and their specific jobs so they can start contributing as soon as possible. A great way to onboard new employees is with social. Research shows that 80% of learning happens in an unstructured environment, like conversations with coworkers. If you want your employees to learn about their roles, the company, and the organization’s culture, who better to learn from than their new colleagues? Using social makes this learning possible and makes onboarding a natural and simple process.

    A good onboarding process does more than just welcome employees. Research by the Aberdeen Group shows that businesses with a standard onboarding practice had 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater retention of new employees. Not only is employee retention important for company culture, but a study by the Center for American Progress shows that it saves companies thousands of dollars. On average, for an employee earning under $50,000 a year, the cost of finding a replacement is about 20% of that employee’s salary, and that percentage increases for more senior level hires. Now, those are just the results for having a standard onboarding practice…imagine what the results would be for a great onboarding process. Social is a smart way to facilitate onboarding and save money for your business.

    From the first day on the job, new employees can use social to get to know their coworkers and the company culture, find answers to questions, and access necessary resources. Their onboarding tasks can be automated and streamlined so they don’t feel overwhelmed by paperwork. New employees easily become actively involved in the organization and understand company specific business processes. These social features give new employees the boost needed to achieve faster time to productivity and increase the likelihood of retention.

    Social onboarding is a win-win situation for companies and employees. New hires feel instantly connected to their colleagues and organization and have easy access to important documents. In return, businesses have more productive workers who are likely to stay with the company for a long time. So lose your traditional thoughts about onboarding and look for a social solution.

    If you’d like to learn more about how a social solution can improve onboarding, contact one of our experts.

    Separating the Nice to Have from the Must Have Technology

    For many people, the idea of going a day without social interaction is unimaginable. You greet the mailman as you head off to work, catch up with friends later in the day, and share your stories from the day with your family when you return home. These daily communications are not just habit; we need this human interaction to live.

    Now, in between greeting the mailman and catching up with friends, you go to work. Just because you’re going to work doesn’t mean you should cut off all social interactions. Not only is it unnatural to limit communication, it hinders your employees’ ability to get work done if they’re in departmental silos, with no visibility into what other teams are doing.TechMustHaveImg

    A social solution is a simple and effective way to help employees work together, but getting employees to jump on the bandwagon can be challenging. For users to consider a technology solution as a must have item, it has to easily integrate into business processes and help them work better. Social interaction is such a central part of people’s lives that having a secure social platform within the workplace is becoming a necessity. Employees want to communicate with their coworkers, be able to find experts within the organization, and work with their colleagues to get projects done faster and better.

    While communication and collaboration can enrich people’s personal lives, these functions are crucial in the workplace. The sales, marketing, and product teams must communicate easily and work together consistently in order to deliver a great product to customers. If employees are siloed off into their own departments, they can’t share necessary information and the product and company suffer. Social helps employees knock down those barriers between departments so they can work together easily and efficiently. Using social to work with coworkers is also more engaging than discussing projects via email. They aren’t simply passing ideas and updates back and forth; they’re collaborating and learning from one another in real-time, which drives engagement. Employees who are engaged in their work will not only be more satisfied with their jobs, but more productive, leading to more productivity company-wide.

    When a technology solution, like social, can drive engagement and productivity in an organization, and easily integrates into the current business processes, it becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity.

    That Was Easy: Using Social to Find Answers to Questions

    Whether it’s your first day at a new job, or you’re a ten year company veteran, you’re bound to run into a question you don’t know how to answer. Maybe you’re a new employee inquiring about the best lunch spots. Or maybe you’d like to know the status of a project in another department. You have a question, but can’t see through the cubicles to find the best person to answer. Rather than raising your hand and hoping someone notices, knock down those cubicles, and use social to find the answer.iStock_000015742269XSmall

    According to a 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute, today’s knowledge worker spends 28% of work time on email management and 19% finding the information required to complete work tasks. If you have a question and don’t know who to ask, emailing that question to a group of people might seem logical. However, each person who asks questions this way contributes to this email increase across the organization. Use social to reduce your search time and prevent your coworkers’ inboxes from overflowing.

    With social, you leverage your coworkers’ experience and knowledge. Here’s how you ask a question and receive answers with social: You signal your question to a group of employees or the whole company, and the relevant experts offer their best answers and different perspectives. The whole company can see the question and answer process, but only the knowledge holders will come forward and assist. You can also take advantage of workspaces and groups related to a specific team or product. Search tags within those workspaces and find relevant documents to increase your speed to information.

    Social makes it easy to find answers, while saving search time and without needing to identify who can answer the question. Also, if your coworkers have the same question, they can follow the discussion and receive the answer. So the next time you have a question, whether it’s where the new café is located, or what the status of a project is, leverage your bright colleagues and let them share their expertise.

    To find out more about how social can help find answers to questions, contact one of our experts.

    How to Help Your Employees Overcome the Fear of Change

    Imagine this scenario: an executive at your company has decided to roll out a new technology to the entire organization; say, an expense reporting system. As a business leader, you’re responsible for implementing this change in your department and helping your employees adjust. The decision may be out of your hands, but it’s your responsibility to ensure your team’s adoption of this technology, and you’ve been given a hard date that it’ll be launched. Your team is wondering how this will impact their work and they’re looking to you for answers. It’s a difficult position to be in, and while it’s natural to be a little worried or scared, you have to lead your employees to overcome their fear of change to embrace the new system. So, how do you do this?

    When you have planned adjustments to enhance your business processes, you can minimize your employees’ fear with some proactive steps. Researchers have found that the most common fears about workplace change are caused by a fear of the unknown and a lack of information. These both point back to the idea of not understanding the situation and what the future holds for the company and employee roles.iStock_000023663224XSmall

    Communication is one of the keys to effectively introducing something new into the workplace. If your company is implementing a new technology solution, you want to understand why they’re making that choice. Change just for the sake of change is pointless. You have an established work flow and don’t want something that will disrupt that process. The technology should enhance your business process, not make it more difficult. You want to understand how this solution will help you and your employees work better. You want to understand the impact it will have so you can plan ahead and not have to be reactive. Talk to the decision-makers about the technology solution and determine exactly what will change so you can prepare your employees.

    When Jamie Roush, Crime Analysis Unit Manager at the Jacksonville Florida Sheriff’s Office, decided she wanted to implement a social solution that would eventually be available agency-wide, she strayed away from the top down method of change management that often happens within law enforcement agencies. When Roush decided to implement a social solution, she made the officers and detectives an integral part of the change. She showed officers the technology, highlighted the benefits it offered them, and provided full access. Once some of the officers started using social, Roush made Socialtext their central knowledge portal and its use became a part of the officers’ daily work flow. By explaining the reasons and benefits of the technology, and then allowing employees to play a critical role in making the change, the Sherriff’s Office was able to make a necessary switch to social, which achieved the desired result of increased communication and collaboration.

    If the mere mention of the word change makes your employees break a sweat, don’t worry; it’s a very common fear and you can help them get past it. Figure out why your employees are scared and then make strides toward calming those nerves. If they’re worried about how their roles will be altered or their business processes will shift, talk with the decision-makers. Be proactive so you have time to prepare your employees for these changes and can show them how the new technology will augment their existing work flow.

    Socialtext’s Growth Leads to Corporate Expansion

    We’re excited to announce our recent office expansion and relocation to 558 Waverly Street in Palo Alto, CA. We’re growing very quickly and this move will help accommodate our additional staff and future hires. Our expansion will also allow us to continue to enhance the Socialtext user experience for our current customers, as well as enable us to serve new users.

    To read more about our recent expansion, click here.

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.

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