Employee Engagement – are we missing a trick?

Tomorrow, I will be at the HR Summit in Birmingham. As per usual, I’ll be banging on about my favourite subject, social media, with my co-conspirator in chief, Tim Scott.  The title of this post is also the title of our workshop.

This time, we are focusing on internal social media, and why, even though social media has been around for a long time now, many organisations are still not using it to their best advantage (or indeed any advantage), especially when it comes to engaging their employees. Or perhaps even more usefully, but often overlooked in the whole engagement hoo haa, removing causes of disengagement.

Because we have all worked somewhere where people complain about communication. Where people say that they don’t know what is going on.  That everyone around here works in silos.  That they never see the senior leadership team.  Or where people feel that they aren’t listened to or their suggestions aren’t heard.  If these refrains feel familiar to you, it is because most of us have experienced them at some time or another or have heard the complaints or read the comments in the annual engagement survey shenanigans or are living it right now.

There’s plenty of theory about what drives employee engagement if you go a-Googling. But we don’t really need to. Because at its heart, it is simple, but it is also difficult.  It is the macro and the micro.  The big picture and the everyday interaction.  The candidate experience and the induction and the reward and the learning and development and the internal communication.   It is the formal strategy and the spaces in between.  It is what is seen to be done and what never gets done.  It is the leadership of the organisation through to the temperature of the air conditioning.  It is a million little things and some big ones too.

When it comes to what disengages us at work, we don’t need no education there either. We are disengaged when we feel that we don’t have a voice.  When we don’t have the information that we need to do our jobs properly.  When we feel like we aren’t learning and growing.  When all that hygiene stuff isn’t where it needs to be.  When we feel that we aren’t appreciated.

Is social media the answer?

No. There is no answer.  No tick box 10 steps to employee engagement what engaging leaders do that others don’t do it this way follow this theory one size fits all.

But it is part of the answer. It can help you with all of that people stuff that the books call the employee life cycle. It can help make your leaders real and accessible.  It can provide you with real time voice, if you are listening.  It can help people collaborate and share.  It can open your internal communication channels right up.  It can give you dialogue over monologue.

Plenty of organisations are using internal social media. But some recent research I came across by Xpert HR said that only a fifth are formally using them for networking, collaboration and communication.  Whilst I spend a lot of time talking to HR professionals about social media, few organisations seem to have a formal strategy for how they will use and get the best from their internal platform.  Many aren’t even active on their own platform.  Some have found that employees have led the way and set up the network because no one else has.

We can do better than this, HR folks. It is 2016 after all.  Maybe it is time more of us started working that way.  Hang back or get ahead.


To follow all of the fun from the event, keep your eye on #HRevent16. I’ll tweet you there. 

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