Internal Social Networking for Airservices: Can getting employees to talk to each other boost engagement?

Welcome everybody to my week 10 blog post for INN346 Enterprise 2.0. Wow, how the time has flown. Nine weeks of blogging over, only this one to go and then we will have set ourselves up to be able to make well informed decisions about Web 2.0 for the workplace. We started off by building a strong foundation by properly familiarising ourselves with exactly what Enterprise 2.0 is, the benefits and risks that are associated with implementing Enterprise 2.0, the legal issues that can arise from social media use and how we can encourage adoption of Web 2.0 tools by staff. We then took this sturdy base of knowledge and built upon it by thinking a bit more about some of the more prevalent Web 2.0 tools and how they could be used by real organisations as a way of solving some of their current business problems.

The organisation? Airservices.

The mission? Improve staff efficiency, encourage better communication between staff develop a knowledge management solution and increase staff engagement.

The tools? So far….micro-blogs, blogs and wikis.

And then? Next up, the wonderful world of social networking services (or SNS’s for short).

SNSS (Aka Social Networking Service Strategies…who doesn’t love an acronym that sounds like the sound you make when you sneeze?)
So how can Airservices use SNS’s to benefit their organisation and help them achieve some of their business goals? What strategies can they adopt that will ensure that they make the most of what SNS’s have to offer? The strategy that I’m going to focus on is internal communications. I am going to look at how implementing an internal social networking strategy can help Airservices to improve staff engagement, morale and communication.

Please, once you have finished reading my blog, pop over to the blogs my team mates to check out the social networking strategies that they have covered this week:
Andrew
Aurelie
Alex
Claire

Internal Communications
The Airservices Workforce Plan 2012-13 identifies one of the main challenges that the organisation will face in the future as “increasing the rate of engagement of its employees”. One of the strategies identified within the report for increasing staff engagement is to enhance social club arrangements, creating opportunities to network and participate in extra curricular activities. I believe that this strategy can be further improved through the implementation of an internal social network. Social clubs are restricted to the physical locations of staff, whereas an online social network would allow staff to engage with co-workers who are located in not only separate cities, but different states as well.

Candice, are you sure social networking can help boost employee engagement?
Well, a recent study conducted by APCO Worldwide found that companies utilising internal social media services were experiencing a higher level of staff engagement than those that weren’t. The study also found:
• Employees of companies using internal social media strategies well were less likely to leave their jobs;
• 39% of employees of companies using internal social media strategies would recommend their company’s products and services to others; and
• 61% of employees said that the social networking tools of their organisation improved collaboration.

And if that’s not evidence enough, Dr Jason Watson also informed us in our lecture this week that the benefits of internal social networking include:
• Enhanced collaboration; and
• Better moral.
Honestly, what more could you want?

How to make it work
Airservices has an aging workforce, 16% are aged 55 years and over and 46% of the total workforce is over 45 years of age. In order to market a tool such as an online social network to a workforce made up most of Baby Boomers and Gen X’s, push from management will be needed. Staff will need to be encouraged to use the new technology, and this may be helped along by combining Airservices suggested approach with this one, get the social clubs on board. Staff participation in the Airservices social clubs is relatively strong. The presidents and committee members of the social clubs could be given the task of inviting staff to join the social network as a way of encouraging use. They already run raffles and share pictures from the events that they run via the corporate email, this sort of activity could be moved to the social network, which would encourage other staff to participate.

Also, most staff are familiar with and read the monthly corporate newsletter, a good idea would be to publish an article on the new social networking site upon its launch, and a link to it should be put on the front page of the corporate intranet. This would ensure that the majority of staff are aware that it exists, and know how to access it.

In addition to this, policies and guidelines need to be set up to ensure staff are aware of the proper and acceptable uses of the new service.

I would love to hear any other ideas that you may have for how to make internal social network successful amongst a workforce that may not even be using Facebook at home? I’d also love to hear if your workplace has successfully (or not) implemented and internal social networking service, and how it was marketed to staff.

References:
Softjoe Collaborative: Social Media & Employee Engagement
APCO Worldwide
Ragan.com: Study proves internal social media engages employees
IABC Research Foundation & Buck Consultants: Employee Engagement Survey
Airservices Workforce Plan 2012-13
Enterprise 2.0 Lecture Week 10: Social Networking including corporate Considerations. Dr Jason Watson

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7 Responses to Internal Social Networking for Airservices: Can getting employees to talk to each other boost engagement?

  1. Karen E says:

    Hi Candice, I think social networking will definitely boost employee engagement. It provides an avenue for employee to get to know each other without the geographical barrier. If they are already involved in social clubs, bringing it online is just another way to boost the participations. They can host competitions online (e.g.: best dress for Pirate Day or Halloween) and ask staff around the globe to post pictures. By doing so, everyone can participate and it brings the organisation closer.

    • Hey Karen,
      I do love the idea of bringing all staff together into one big “social club”. I think it’s a great way of getting staff to know each other better, and people who are “friends” are generally going to work together better. The problem at the moment is that so many managers still see social media as a time waster, and can’t see it for the potential benefits that it offers. They don’t like the idea of staff wasting time chatting to each other rather than doing work. What they don’t understand is that even if staff are spending some time talking with one another, they’ll be happier, and happy staff are going to do more to support the company that they work for.
      Thanks so much for your feedback.

      • andrewdcook says:

        Hey Candice, you are totally right about the attitude of some managers, the idea of using a “Social Network” within an organisation can ruin your chances of implementing one entirely. However, i have this idea, that if we all start calling them Collaborative Tools (or something similar – i’m open to suggestions) perhaps we can begin to shift this idea that their only purpose is to “chat” and “waste time”.

      • Hey Andrew,
        You are so right, it’s like all managers have this thing in their head where social networks = time wastage, and there is nothing that can be done to alter that perception. I think that’s a great idea to try and create a “corporate” term for social networks that can bring with it a new way in which they are viewed. Kind of like how nobody likes the idea of eating prunes, but offer someone a dried plum and their ok. It’s all about marketing and sometimes it’s about selling the exact same product in two different ways, one for the masses, and one for the executives.

  2. Pingback: Social Networking: How to take advantage of the human web « AURELIE @QUT

  3. 33mjb says:

    Hey Candice,

    I like your post as it contains some useful insight backed up by the facts. I particularly like your fact from the APCO study which said ‘Employees of companies using internal social media strategies well were less likely to leave their jobs’. I find this really interesting as it shows that there are often benefits to social networking that are often overlooked or not measured in the ROI. I suppose that a higher level of engagement and collaboration may make employees feel like they are part of a bigger picture, and make them feel as if they have a purpose in their role.

    I work in a small IT consulting firm, and we are currently exploring the use of an internal and external wiki for collaborating, storing and sharing knowledge. The big advantage that we can see for the internal wiki is that the consultants can share our experiences and ideas on the software product, and develop plans on how to further increase the functionality of our software. The wiki would help us to share new knowledge among employees, and would decrease the amount of time being spent searching for and discovering this for ourselves. As we are in a massive growth phase, this too would help us with training our new staff.

    I totally agree that guidelines and policies need to be developed to ensure that the content is relevant and that the wiki is being used properly.

    I too have enjoyed reading your posts throughout the semester!

    Cheers, Michael

    • Hey Michael,

      Thanks for the feedback. It’s nice to read about someone who works for an organisation that is willing to give new things a go and I like that so far what your have tried has been somewhat successful for you. I love the thought of new staff being able to make use of the social media tools as a way of coming to terms with working in a new place. I only wish that I had the same when I joined my current employer. It’s not that the information wasn’t there, but for someone who was new, and didn’t understand the structure of the organisation or how to locate information, it was rather difficult to find what I needed. I also would have loved an easier way of getting to know the people that I worked with rather that just saying hello to whoever happened to be hanging around the coffee maker at morning tea time. An internal social network in a large company would really help this along. New people could find each other, and they could also seek out people that worked in the same sort of area as them. I must say I envy the fact that you get to trial these new things in a real working environment.

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