Employee engagement is about employees giving extra effort above and beyond regular job duties.

Engagement has been around as a concept since John Kotter demonstrated the link between employee behavior and bottom-line performance in the 1970s. William Kahn first defined the term in the early 1990s, but it took Gallup to popularize the idea with their book First Break All The Rules and their Q12 survey. Many organizations still pursue that elusive result.

But how many companies use technology to drive the engagement they so badly want and need?

Consider this quote:

“Technology can help you:

  • Get the most out of your employees
  • Encourage collaboration and social interaction
  • Connect disconnect workers
  • Measure employee engagement”

This is straight out of a white paper I collaborated on with the team at Coldwater Software. I won’t steal all the thunder from that piece, but instead highlight some of the stories and tell a few more.

One of my favorites is about the lack of collaboration within the healthcare industry. Most providers have a mindset that if they aren’t right in front of a patient, they aren’t productive. Imagine what nurses in one neurology unit could learn from those on the same unit in a sister hospital? Even the larger networks of facilities don’t facilitate this learning effectively.

Nurses increasingly use hand-held devices to communicate with each other, docs, and technicians. If you could provide them with mobile access to a community of nurses working in a similar discipline, what might they innovate? Would they like their jobs better?

And what about managers around the globe trying to lead their people effectively? What if they didn’t have to call four different people to get instructions on how to handle an employee situation?

What if they had one go-to place for everything they needed to manage their team?

One company created just such a space and heard from managers that it saved them time and made them more effective.

Those are just two examples in the white paper; now for some new examples.

Employee Travel

Take employees who travel. Many probably already use online tools like Yelp and TripAdvisor to make personal travel plans. What if they could share with fellow employees the tips and tricks that make business travel better?

Let them post reviews of the contracted hotels in a city. Let them recommend places to eat, even sights to see. Get some champions to share key parts of the travel policy in the same community.

Then, trend travel expenses. It may be possible to reduce travel expenses through this type of sharing. Not to mention the potential increase in satisfaction amongst your travelers.

Intranet News

For many years now intranet news has been a one-way push from the Corporate communicators to employees. Corporate communicators seek out stories or are dictated to by executives. Priorities are often set based upon an executive whim or a lack of resources. Too bad, because news is a terrific engagement tool.

Making news a collaborative opportunity for any author opens the door to more interesting and meaningful content. Incorporating rating and sharing pushes it beyond the everyday network of users.

Ratings also enable crowdsourcing, which drives more readership. (For an example of great SharePoint news, check out ElevatePoint, and come back for my future post elaborating on news in SharePoint.)

But those organizations incorporating more links to valuable reference materials employees need day-to-day really benefit. The more value employees gain, the more engaged they’ll be.

Innovation

More and more organizations today use their intranets to drive innovation. Asking employees to submit suggestions and ideas is the important first step.

But true engagement occurs when you enable them to vote on ideas and track the winning ideas through feasibility study and implementation.

This encourages more and more idea submissions and voting. The ROI can spiral into millions of dollars of savings, new business, and productivity.

The Role of SharePoint

SharePoint can serve all of these needs. If you make strategic choices that support business goals, you can get employees more engaged with each other, the organization, and their work through a great SharePoint intranet.

Start that engagement early by including employees from all over in the discovery and planning. Make them feel a part of creating the new thing. This also helps with adoption and change management.

Target business processes that are screaming out to be web enabled (more on this in a future post). For real engagement, make your SharePoint intranet an integral part of employees’ digital work experience.