In terms of business value, I think internal workplace social networks are one of the most underrated tools available. Sometimes called “enterprise social network” (ESN) or “workplace social software” (Gartner), at the highest level, you can think of this as a closed Facebook for the enterprise.
In Microsoft’s world, that is typically Yammer. But this article is less about the platform choice and more about the overall value of workplace social, the platform could be Workplace by Facebook, Jive, Salesforce Chatter. You also see some company using tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams for “workplace social”, I think there are better choices for this use case, but that’s another blog.
This blog is not about your choice of enterprise social platform, but the real business value workplace social can provide.
What is the business value in using and driving a workplace social network?
Drive culture, community and employee engagement
1. Drive Culture. Drive a culture of people communicating, supporting each other and sharing information. Break down organisational silos.
2. Create Community. Employees are often remote, distributed around the world and only ever talk to their own team. Workplace social gives a place to connect and engage with the wider company.
3. Engage Employees. Share information in a way that is accessible and promotes engagement and feedback.
Find Experts, share knowledge and spark innovation
4. Find Experts. Give people an open place to share their knowledge, to search for information and ask questions when they otherwise would not know who to go to.
5. Knowledge Base. The workplace social network can become a real-world organisation knowledge repository, real stories, real solutions, real experiences. Why lose all this value in private chat and emails?
6. Spark Innovation through sharing industry news, insights, customer stories and challenges.
Supporting the Business Goals
I feel that most business leaders would have to agree that
- Communications across departmental and geographical boundaries are challenging
- As companies grow, it’s harder for people to know who to go to with questions or ideas on a particular topic
- People in the business communicating with each other about what’s going on in the business, with customers and in the wider market can only lead to a more informed company
- Driving a culture of sharing information and collaborating is key important to driving innovation and delivering in ever faster-moving markets?
- Employees having a feeling of community and empowerment helps drive morale and staff retention
Workplace social networks are not the silver bullet, but when used well, the undoubtedly support the above business goals.
Our employees don’t/won’t use a social network
Don’t try to tell me your employees don’t use social networking. 79% of all online US adults use Facebook. Globally, more than 2.8 billion people — or 37% of the world’s population — use social media. There are 562 million people on LinkedIn (70% outside the US), 260 million active monthly, a *professional* social network.
I don’t really buy into stereotyping by age, but by 2020 35% of the workforce will be Millennials and 24% will be Gen Z, that’s over half the workforce! Surveys would suggest they have a preference to faster, regular and shorter internal communications.
Yes, not *everyone* uses social networking in their personal life, and yes use outside the workplace will not automatically mean usage inside the workplace, but can we all agree social media is a thing, and a lot of people seem to like it.
100% usage should not be your goal. You do not need to achieve 100% usage to provide significant business value.
Give me some examples of real businesses seeing value from workplace social?
EY with 212,000 employees in more than 700 offices around 150 countries in the world here
Nationwide building society: Yammer & Nationwide – The Social Side of Success
Tesco: Tesco | Going Social
Rachel Miller at allthingsIC has put together a great list of over 400 enterprise social network case studies. Check it out here: http://www.allthingsic.com/list/