The Rise and Fall of the Enterprise Social Network : 3 ways to improve and drive engagement

Stu Margetts
Nov 1, 2021

Have you ever logged into your Enterprise Social Network, or ESN, and felt like you’re joining somebody else’s conversation? Well, you’re not alone! We often find that the same group of people post, share and comment, but the majority sit back and watch the ongoing conversation flow.

This might look great on the surface – after all, the platform is being used – but if it’s only the same group of people taking part, it might be a sign that other staff don’t feel comfortable getting involved. This can translate into other parts of the company culture, too.

It might not be anything malicious. The people posting might be doing so to show others that the platform is there to be used, with the unforeseen side effect that it stops other people from joining in to what they see as a click or closed group. To really improve employee engagement, we need to look at changing the culture and awareness of all staff.

What Are Enterprise Social Networks?

When ESNs were first introduced, businesses pounced on them as the solution to their communication and collaboration challenges and implemented them without the necessary cultural change to make it a success.

The majority of companies, although they may not like to admit it, don’t have a culture of open and honest sharing throughout. A lot of staff are happy to stay on the sidelines and get on with their day to day role without being thrust into the limelight which comes with additional responsibility and accountability. This has led to ESNs becoming ghost towns. What was once the answer to all problems is now another expensive and underused tool, especially as there is often limited access for non-desk workers.

Back in 2012, Microsoft purchased Yammer, an Enterprise Social Networking company for $1.2bn, just five years later, Microsoft decided to kill Yammer’s stand-alone Enterprise plan and move customers across to a different subscription plan, proving that on their own, ESNs probably aren’t the miracle cure that will solve all communication and engagement issues.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the level of dedication and commitment a member of staff has to a business. This can be shown in many different ways depending on the person, but there are several ways you can track how engaged someone is. This might be by looking at their activity within a communication platform or ESN and see how active they are, looking at the kind activity they perform, or even something more specific such as survey results, time to open messages or complete tasks.

Some of these metrics can be seen and analysed in the analytics section of your chosen communication tool, and OurPeople provides this data in real-time so you can make quick and accurate decisions.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

An engaged employee is more likely to be a loyal member of staff. They read messages and updates in a timely manner, help and encourage others, create a positive work environment, and much more. This is an incredibly valuable person to any business, as they lead by example and help others engage just by doing what they do.

Employee engagement is a big part of company culture, which is what helps attract and retain staff. This helps with the social aspect of any team, as well as ensuring messages and updates are read and acted upon when they are sent.

Part of making employee engagement work is making it easy, and appealing, for your staff to do what you want them to do, whether that’s with the right content, the right platform or the right actions.

Factory Worker Mobile

Employee Engagement Strategies

So, how do we improve employee engagement? How do we instil these cultural changes that will lead to a more collaborative workplace? Here are three employee engagement strategies for you to try out:

  • Use current behaviours to help drive change. According to a study by Asurion, we check our phones every 12 minutes. This suggests that delivering content to a platform that is mobile-first will allow your team to access it on the device that they use most. With 70% of people working away from the office at least 1 day per week, we have to rethink the way that we communicate with our co-workers.
  • Set permission levels to stop information overload. Some of the negative reviews of ESNs are that there is a huge quantity of information that isn’t particularly relevant to the vast majority of staff. This can be easily avoided with the use of OurPeople’s “Smart Tags”. Cut down on the noise, improve on communication and collaboration.
  • Ensure that your platform is multi-use. As Microsoft learned with Yammer, an ESN isn’t particularly useful on its own and often needs a suite of products behind it to deliver value. Finding a platform which is multi-use allows you to overcome challenges further reaching than communication. For example, alongside team communication, OurPeople is helping our customers to improve their operations, engagement, personal development, and more.

The Benefits Of Employee Engagement

There are a lot of benefits to employee engagement, but the most obvious is a loyal and dedicated workforce that you can trust to put in the extra effort when the situation calls for it. These people will be ambassadors for your brand, which is essential for those in frontline times dealing with customers on every shift. The customer service they deliver will be better than your competitors, helping keep customers loyal to you, too.

By thinking about how your staff will use a communication tool to engage with you and other teams, you’re making it easier for them to complete their work. This shows you value them and their time, while recognising where they should put their focus. A single desktop that’s not easy to access will lower employee engagement but see staff spend more time with customers.

With a communication platform that can be accessed anywhere, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

What Features Can Help With Employee Engagement?

We believe one of the best ways to improve employee engagement is to make sure what they see and can do is relevant to their needs. If someone has to search through messages, content, files or activities that don’t matter to them, they’re less likely to do what you want them to – or even use the platform at all.

To help with this, OurPeople has several features that can help make sure employees get only what’s relevant to them.

The tag feature allows you to easily select who receives what messages, or can access certain files and resources. This makes it easy for staff to see or get what they need.

Different types of content, such as surveys, forms, quizzes, video, and more, can all help you tailor your messages. Some people may respond to certain types more than others, and using the right medium can improve engagement.

Training courses and modules can be created to help with staff development and training, so both you and they can be sure of learning new skills and completing tasks correctly.

Fitness Team Mobile

How Can OurPeople Help With Employee Engagement?

With OurPeople, your teams are able to communicate and collaborate without tasks getting lost in the noise. Smart tags make it easy for you to broadcast content to relevant employees straight to their device of choice.

Our micro-learning platform enables staff to better digest and engage with your course content, allowing for a better and more consistent approach to learning & development. Get feedback through surveys, quizzes and more at the tap of a screen. The ESN is a thing of the past, OurPeople is the future.

With targeted features, content and messages, your staff are more likely to engage as what you send is relevant to them, and this is a great way to start boosting employee engagement rates. To find out more, get in touch with our team today.

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