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Enabling The Social Workplace Through Social Technologies

Image courtesy of equatehr

Through my own conversations, I have seen a shift in the C suite towards having a better understanding that social technology is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have” in today’s results-driven workplace. There has been significant growth in the deployment of cohesive social platforms as a communications tool to help employees not only understand how their individual role contributes to overall business success but also as a valuable information tool for knowledge sharing and collaboration activities.

However, while “72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way, very few are anywhere near to achieving the full potential benefit. In fact, the most powerful applications of social technologies in the global economy are largely untapped. Companies will go on developing ways to reach consumers through social technologies and gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service. Yet the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises. MGI’s estimates suggest that by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent.” [source: McKinsey – The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies]

For example, take the employee portal (intranet): A valuable tool for employees as a resource of knowledge and information. But, still today, there are many companies who approach the employee portal as a social collaboration tool. A good approach for many companies and, to be honest, I’ve seen a social portal launched quite successfully within many companies.

But, I work in a corporate environment where the C suite isn’t satisfied with a “social / collaboration” tool. Rather, the employee portal needs to solve for something bigger and more comprehensive. For example, a more comprehensive approach to an effective employee portal, especially one that needs budget support (and which one doesn’t!?)  means that it must be more than a social tool. It must be something that enables employees to get their every day tasks done resulting in higher levels of productivity.

But it’s not just the C suite who demands this. As Appirio says, “today’s workforce is demanding a consumer-grade intranet experience to access business applications, corporate services, and bring about new levels of collaboration using social and mobile tools in the workplace.

Cloud, mobile and social technologies make it possible to create an intranet that provides anytime, anywhere access to organizational information, knowledge, expertise, and tools—all designed with the employee experience in mind.” [ Appirio: Social Intranet by Appirio]

I’ve written previously about the importance of creating a social intranet where employees can learn, plan and do their work and personal lives. That is, an employee portal that is not just a communications and information vehicle, but one that is transactional as well. I would even take this one step further by emphasizing that through the application of social technologies, that traditional HR transactions can be transformed into interactions.

With today’s technology and available platforms, companies have a unique opportunity to transform portals that have previously been very one-way communication tools and turn them into two-way conversations and interactions — from corporate information to knowledge sharing to employee and manager data management to all facets of HR program tools.

That’s why I love this report from Appirio which really provides companies with a better understanding of employee portals today.

In conjunction with IHRIM, they found that while few companies have social intranets today, those that offer social or mobile features in their intranet are able to dramatically increase employee engagement and HR effectiveness. You can read the report in its entirety, but the highlights are available in the infographic created by Appirio below.

The State of the Employee Portal by Appirio

The State of the Employee Portal – by Appirio

I hope that this information helps illustrate why an effective employee portal isn’t just about being social. Rather, it’s about enablement and productivity that facilitates social collaboration and interactions. The result of which is a more productive and engaged workforce.

If you are interested in learning more, I invite you to come hear me speak at the Talent Management Associations’ Employee Engagement & Retention conference where I will be speaking about the transformation of HR transactions into HR interactions through social technology, and how the roadmap for doing so is based on the employee lifecycle.

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