Why an enterprise social network is key to improving employee engagement

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There is a direct correlation between the levels of employee engagement and their productivity. Given the obvious importance of worker productivity in terms of the profitability of the business and remaining competitive, you would assume that improving employee engagement would be a huge point of interest for companies.

While they may indeed be making engagement levels a priority, there are numerous statistics highlighting the lack of employee engagement in businesses around the world. This lack of engagement costs more than $500bn per year to the U.S. economy for example, while 36% of employees would give up $5,000 per year in salary to be happier at work.

Why are employees disengaged?

Employees can become disengaged for several reasons: a poor relationship with their manager, a sense of feeling undervalued or even by fault of their own. But there is also another underlying issue regarding employee disengagement: work practices, values and technologies are rapidly changing, while the organisations we work in are not. If there is a considerable gap between the way you want to get work done and the way work actually gets done in your company, engagement will naturally suffer.

Thankfully, technology can help bridge this gap. In particular, enterprise social networks are able to align the way we work individually and collaboratively by facilitating company-wide communication and information sharing.

Enterprise social networks are improving employee engagement

  • Reach audiences through multiple channels

Social platforms offer instant messaging between individuals or groups of workers, as well as status updates and comments for rapid, personal communication between workers. Compared to standard email chains, you can expect better engagement as employees can share information and update each other in a centralised space.

  • Join the discussion

Discussing topics openly will naturally elicit more collaboration among employees. A well-structured discussion thread can include rating features and ‘featured posts’ that get the most important content the most visibility. Administrators can create forum groups tailored to individual requirements as well, so workers can use a shared space when working on projects, for example. Whether looking for information across the business or for specific tasks, content is more readily available for your employees to work on.

  • Rich content

Using a social platform doesn’t mean content has to become ‘dulled down’ or simplified. Many enterprise social tools include text editors to produce the same formatting techniques you would find in a Word document. Attachments can be added from local files, URLs or your SharePoint library. Users can tag content to make it easier to find, and they can subscribe to self-created posts or posts from other users to receive notifications on post replies. Given the popularity of using social on mobile devices, notifications can keep users in the loop no matter where they are.

  • Gamification

Gamification has become a big part of many enterprises’ social tools. Users can earn rewards and recognition for participating and communicating with other employees. By encouraging the proactive use of the platform, you can turn employees who are willing to use the platform to employees who want to use it.

Engagement requires adoption

Benefits such as the above spurred Microsoft’s $1.2bn purchase of enterprise social networking firm Yammer in 2012. Recognising the potential of the platform, Microsoft added Yammer to their Office 365 platform as a potential successor of the social features in SharePoint.

However, as of 2017, Yammer’s Enterprise plan has been ditched in favour of alternative Office 365 services such as Teams and Office 365 Groups which offer some ‘social’ features but are far from being fully-fledged social networks.

Why the backwards step? Enterprise social networks should be improving employee engagement across an organisation. To do that, though, they need to be easy for users to adopt. It can be argued that Microsoft initially misfired with Yammer, opting to keep the platform as a separate entity despite being a part of the Office 365 platform.

As the leading enterprise cloud provider, the majority of users are extremely familiar with Microsoft products—whether it’s the Office Suite, SharePoint or Office 365. This familiarity often results in a reluctance to transition to new or different software, so as to avoid the additional user training this requires. This may have been the reason behind Yammer’s poor initial adoption and Microsoft’s decision to strip back its role within Office 365.

Introducing social squared

With Social Squared users can experience the benefits of an enterprise social network while keeping the familiarity of Microsoft SharePoint on-premises and Online within Office 365. By using SharePoint as a platform, Social Squared is a fully-featured enterprise discussion forum tool with multiple forum groups and integration with your organisation’s SharePoint newsfeed. Social Squared deploys to all versions of SharePoint—Foundation, Server and Enterprise—to ensure you get the most out of your SharePoint investment.

Most importantly, Social Squared gives you the social capabilities that are hard to extract from out-of-the-box SharePoint, giving you the capabilities of an enterprise social network without switching to a completely new platform.

To see how Social Squared can enhance employee engagement in your company, start your free 14-day trial today.