Employee Engagement and Social Business go Hand in Hand

Business fabric has changed, believe me! Today, employees play an equal role, if not more, in deciding the future of the organization or product. Organizations can’t afford to ignore this reality because the costs are too high. After all who wants to go out of business!

Illustration by Khalid Raza

Welcome to a guest post by Khalid Raza, HR & Social Media expert!

Feedback plays a humongous role in becoming a social business – in the real sense of the word. Deploying an enterprise social network (ESN) and then expecting employees to connect is a fool’s paradise. Becoming social is a behavior change and not an action item list which can be tick marked. And this is where the real action starts. We all know changing individual behavior is not an easy job, let alone an entire organization. Achieving that desired behavior change is not easy, and is a major reason why 80% of social business projects fail to deliver the desired outcomes. So what’s the best path forward?

Let’s start simple. For the next few minutes, try and think about what drives an employee’s behavior from their perspective. What engages them? Who/what inspires them to bring a change? What levers will help you to help them?

Maureen Monte rightly stated in her guest blog on SocialGlamor that “Employee engagement is the outcome of a work experience. In aggregate, it is a two-way exchange of energy between an employer and their employees that benefits key business metrics and a great customer experience.”

Is the picture getting clearer? The base of becoming a successful social business enterprise is to first create engaged employees. Research shows that highly engaged organizations have emotional connections – often, those are not driven by freebies, technology, trips, or even money. They are driven by ongoing conversations focused on the talents, skills, and dreams of the employee. Where do they want to be in 5 years? What does success look like? How do we measure it? Finding a social business approach to capturing, celebrating, and sharing that content is more likely to drive engagement.

I can promise you, if I was talking to an audience right now, many hands would have gone up to ask the question, “Khalid, I give constructive feedback all the time but my employees are still not engaged!”

The connotation of the word feedback has transformed from a pristine and precise method of development to a conversation where a leader at the top tells a reportee to mend their ways or fix their weaknesses, which are failed strategies. And if you are a manager that thinks or behaves in this manner, then you are likely part of the majority of the leaders wondering why their employees are not engaged and are not social.

The basic tenet of being social is to be open, to be available, and to be confident enough to accept and give feedback with your team members on a consistent and friendly basis. An ESN will allow you to break the invisible walls only if you allow it to, by empowering employees to be open without any fear.

In IBM, we promote the culture of openness through a social business tool called Connections where employees engage, collaborate and learn from one another all the time. My manager, Tim Collins, Director, HR Talent, Development & Resources and I took it one step forward and blogged about our Annual Goals, which for some reasons were always hidden from everyone. How do you expect an employee to become social and open when they are not allowed to share what they are working on? Social is not a solution; It is a tool for the solution. And of course, a solution assumes you know what problem you are trying to solve.

Can you articulate the problems you are trying to solve with engaged employees and social business? I’d love to chat about it. Feel free to reach out to me @khalidraza9 on most social networks and I will be happy to engage with you.

Khalid Raza

Maureen’s Note: Khalid Raza is my dear colleague and friend. You can read about our social adventures at a guest blog I wrote on his very successful site called SocialGlamour. In a nutshell, we created a webinar series that had over 6,000 of our colleagues enrolled! My success as a presenter was largely a byproduct of his help in creating a grass roots movement. He is a strengths rock star, leveraging his top five strengths of Competition, Positivity, Woo, Achiever, and Activator. I welcome him to our collaboration space where we focus on building strong individuals and winning teams! Thanks Khalid!

Maureen (Ideation, Strategic, Achiever, Learner, Individualization, Maximizer)

6 thoughts on “Employee Engagement and Social Business go Hand in Hand

  1. I love this article, really speaks from my heart. Recently I’ve been given a task to propose the “best practice model” for employees engagement, and I really feel the pain of explaining that being engaged is not a task, it’s a mindset, which needs to be nurtured and cultured .. good points. Thank you very much for this both of you!

    • Thanks for posting, Lydia! I know how tuned in you are to Employee Engagement topics – appreciate your remarks and I’m so glad you found it valuable. Khalid is so passionate on this topic, like you, and it’s great to have you both engaging in conversation!!

    • You hit the nail on the head Lydia – engagement isn’t about a free lunch of a trip to a nice trip to a beautiful resort where employees can drink beer (and ‘engage’ in a conversation more detrimental to the organization!).

      According to a report from Gallup 70% of American workers are either not-engaged or actively disengaged, which means they’re disruptive and undermining workplace productivity. And here’s a related stat: “Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the US $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.” So imagine 7 out of 10 employees do not care, literally, what you do to engage employees.

      Employee engagement is all about change of culture which results from a change in mindset. Corporate policies, processes and leadership are the key drivers here.

      Let me share this blog for your further reading on this topic: Three tips to engage employees

      • Hi Khalid – aren’t those statistics from Gallup sobering? And yet, I imagine that each of us has seen “actively disengaged” employees in action. I know I have. I can also see, to your point, how culture plays a role. If a company fails to realize that business is about humanity + results (not just results), then they’ve missed the boat entirely. All the “rewards” in the world won’t make a dent in the damage done when managers or leaders or colleagues treat others poorly. Gallup’s research into client engagement shows that the client experience is 70% emotional, and only 30% rational. My experience at work is the same – I judge my experience through a “how I was treated when I did my work” lens (emotional) with more weight than “I was paid to do work” lens (rational). Both matter, but how I was treated matters more. Thanks for guest posting, my friend!!

    • Hi JENN! Isn’t it funny when you hear someone’s strengths after you’ve known them or worked with them? It’s like, “OH MY GOSH, it’s so you!” And is that one Woo to another? :-) Great to see you here my friend. Onward!

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