Engagement-WordsThe term “social technology” for some reason seems to scare off many employers, who often hesitate to embrace social business adoption simply due to the stigma that the time and effort employees invest in social media are somehow stealing resources (and hours) away from actual “work” – not considering the fact that these two concepts are not, in fact, mutually exclusive.

For those cutting edge organizations who have embraced and implemented social media throughout their enterprise, the fact of the matter is that through harnessing the power inherent to social tools and technologies, the early adopters are already seeing early gains when it comes to employee engagement and improved productivity.

“Work” or not, social seems to be working at work, no matter where in the world of work that work happens to be.

How Social Technologies Drive Employee Engagement.

According to a recent white paper from Aberdeen, the inexorable intertwining of social and enterprise technologies has already impacted the HR function, making business as usual anything but – particularly when it comes to HCM systems.

Aberdeen’s research shows that every recruiting and talent professional should be considering technological solutions to employee engagement within their core HR systems, as well as the features you should be looking for when assessing these technologies for their impact on your people, processes and company culture (click here for the full report).

Social Technology & Employee Engagement: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

eeOf course, not every organization might yet be ready for social technology for the simple reason that these tools can augment, but cannot create or replace, existing organizational initiatives and efforts aimed at increasing employee engagement.

And, like most terms in HR, there seems to be no standard definition or consensus agreement on what, exactly, “employee engagement” or “social technology” really entails, definitions which are more than pedantic.

If we don’t know what we’re trying to achieve, then we’ll never know how to set goals, targets and strategies for improving this critical core competency in the first place.

While there are many definitions out there, the term ‘employee engagement‘ simply describes the relationship an employee has with your company.

This relationship can range from complete engagement, which means that the employee is totally committed and enthusiastic about the work they do, to disengagement, where the employee might be actively hurting productivity by failing to complete work or spreading negativity to others on your staff.

Employee engagement and its importance have gotten a lot of media attention over the past year as companies struggle to find, motivate, and retain the best talent in a strong job market; similarly, there is a lot of focus on social media and its impact on these talent acquisition and management challenges. The two are, really, increasingly two sides of the same coin.

When most of us think of social technology, we think of tools like Facebook or Twitter. However, social technology includes any software tool that can help to form and nurture relationships among people.

That includes internal tools like Slack, Yammer, Skype, etc. that foster open communication among colleagues, as well as tools that enable peer recognition, gamification, and culture-building.

Better Engagement Through Better Technology: 4 Key HCM Considerations.

employee engagement aberdeenAberdeen’s research found that best-in-class organizations are 39% more likely than all others surveyed to describe themselves as active users of social technology.

If you’re looking to use social tools to improve employee engagement in your organization, Aberdeen discusses four additional capabilities that you should be sure are included.

  1. Communication: Aberdeen reported that nearly 60% of businesses have cited that better communication and collaboration across the organization is a top priority for 2015. By using a social platform employees can connect to each other by sharing knowledge and build camaraderie by celebrating each other’s successes. Management can also keep workers informed about all aspects of the business.
  1. Recognition: Recognition for good work on an individual level is a key element of employee engagement, even if it’s a non-monetary award that comes with nothing but kind words. With social technology, managers and peers can use the system to acknowledge the work of others through nominations and public posts that can garner “likes” and comments. Recognition helps to give employees a boost of confidence, keeps them engaged with their jobs, sets an example of desirable behavior, and improves teamwork.
  1. Real-Time Feedback: In the world of Yelp and the ubiquitous 5-star rating system, people want and expect the ability to give and receive real-time feedback. In fact, employees feel more connected to their organization when they are given the opportunity to comment and ask questions of leadership. Aberdeen aptly points out that actively encouraging and soliciting employee feedback through online suggestion boxes or message boards shows workers that their ideas, knowledge, and personal experiences are important, and that the organization will make policy decisions with everyone’s best interests in mind.
  1. Self-Service: Today you can perform most business functions online without writing or speaking a word to another human being. Employees expect the same level of efficiency and autonomy when it comes to HR processes. They want to be able to use their tablets and phones anytime, anywhere, to gather information and get things done without long email chains and approvals. Any platform you use should eliminate manual processes and increase efficiency rather than adding more work for your employees.

Employee Engagement and Culture Fit: Where Social Technologies Fit In.

2016-02-04_04-49-46In the world of work today, there’s no escaping the profound impact technology is making throughout every part of every organization.

No longer are our systems seen as operational tools or systems of record, but as critical components of every part of the “human” side of the human resources business, having become an inextricable part of our approach to people as well as our processes.

This is particularly true at major multinational or enterprise employers, whose large and geographically dispersed workforces require coordinating projects or teams across multiple locations, or providing some proxy for the lack of proximity and regular interpersonal contact with colleagues and management, executive or otherwise, that’s often an inherent part of working for these kinds of organizations.

Social technologies and software can help such employers facilitate internal relationship building and communications, interpersonal connections between coworkers and colleagues, and open new avenues for collaboration, innovation and the interchange of conversation and ideas which are, largely, the difference between a vibrant, compelling company culture and one that falls flat. Engagement is hard.

Without the right technology, however, it’s becoming increasingly impossible and impractical – and there’s no better tool than social media for creating a killer company culture that’s an employer of choice where engagement isn’t a choice for employees – it’s just how business gets done.

Remember, social media isn’t preventing “real” work from getting done – that is, unless you still haven’t adopted them in your HR function, in which case, the opportunity costs are already costing you big time.

And in today’s cutthroat market for top talent, that’s one cost no organization can really afford in the first place.

1cadb99About The Author: Jim Hemmer has over 25 years of experience in the high tech and software industries, having served as a senior executive for a variety of different companies, ranging in stages of development from high growth startups to Fortune 500 stalwarts.

Jim is currently the CEO at WorkStride, an employee recognition, rewards and employee incentive/engagement provider committed to improving the world of work through the WorkStride platform, which is positively impacting employee behavior for some of the world’s top employers and biggest brands.

Jim holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University and an MBA degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JimHemmer or connect with him on LinkedIn.