Jun 25, 2011

Reflections on the Employee Engagement with Social Media workshop

Social-networkImage via WikipediaYesterday I conducted a workshop under the aegis of National HRD Network on Employee Engagement and Social Media. The participants were primarily HR professionals who wanted to explore the area and understand what they could use social media. Only one participant came from a firm that has an internal social network and she claimed that it is hardly used by employees.

I realised during the course of the program that employee engagement is a major issue - and yet HR people seem clueless on how to deal with it. They seem to understand that an internal social network might help in connecting employees to other employees, visualise work, facilitate knowledge sharing and aid in serendipitous discovery that would lead to innovation, and yet, they also worry about "how do we ensure that employees don't misuse these tools?"

Well, the answer to that is that you can never ensure anything. A tool is a tool. It exists in the context of the organization and also creates new contexts within that organization. Getting people to connect and form communities of practice and communities of interest can benefit an organization or harm it depending on how people feel.

Employee engagement can be measured by the discretionary effort people put in - organizational citizenship behaviors. External factors as well as intrinsic factors to the organization impact such behaviors.

Social networks and communities are about relationships. A relationship is like a dance. It often looks like people are taking two steps forward and one step back - but in the end it might end up creating a beautiful visual if both sides are committed to it and trust in each other.
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