Many companies, especially large organizations, are jumping on the internal social network bandwagon. While we applaud the foresight these companies have in using technology to bolster company collaboration, there have been stories of the internal social networks detracting from employee experience instead of elevating collaboration. These stories seem to have arisen from managers not understanding how best to use the tools they have at their disposal. These actions dull the effectiveness of an internal social network as a communication tool for the organization.
While we are definitely looking to improve internal communications for enterprises through our technology, the effectiveness of communication depends on a combination of the tools available and the way people use their tools. The way people use their tools has a huge impact on the employee happiness and thus performance. We’d like to suggest 3 big reasons why companies should have an internal collaboration tool and some considerations for how each can be achieved:
1. Fostering a strong community of employees
When employees enjoy being among their colleagues, productivity increases. Allowing employees to meet others beyond the smaller group of their team or department, and to engage around their various interests, increases employee satisfaction. An internal communications tool provides that opportunity, but the opportunity is only fulfilled when employees use the tool for the above aims.
2. Increasing the approachability of senior management
The scale of large organizations makes it tough for lower-level employees to interact with senior management. However, employees like it when senior management is approachable. Having management and employees on the same communication network goes some way to achieving that. Having it be known that management interacts with and responds to employees through the network goes even further in achieving that. It is to management’s benefit to be seen actively using the network, especially if management communicates with employees in a positive manner, such as responding to employee questions, praising good work, or giving updates about actions taken at the top.
3. Increasing transparency within the organization
The larger the organization, the longer it takes for information to get disseminated, and the easier it is for important information to be “siloed” or restricted to a subset of the organization. Having some kind of communication tool provides management with a means of getting information to everybody simultaneously. The choice of tool is key here: companies have traditionally gone with intranets, but in recent times “message board”-type social networks, and instant messengers have been accepted as internal communication tools as well. We have doubts about the true effectiveness of “message board”-type networks for increasing transparency. While key decision makers can share information by posting on their own profiles, this still requires the employee seek out the profiles in order to access the information. We are much more in favor of important or time sensitive decisions being delivered to everybody, and this belief has driven the “Blast” feature in the Lua app. It’s important for managers be sure that their messages are getting to recipients.