A happy employee is a productive employee. There is a firm correlation between employee engagement and high organizational productivity and performance, across all sectors of the economy.
A recent report on the benefits of employee engagement commissioned by the UK government, Engage for Success, found companies with the highest engagement scores are twice as profitable as those in the bottom quartile.
Engaged employees work harder, are often willing to take on extra responsibilities and are a positive influence on their peers. There’s a raft of less-well-known benefits, too, from increased innovation to a reduction in accidents at work. One study even found engaged employees live healthier lifestyles.
Yet despite these well-established benefits, engagement levels remain low in many organizations. In a meta-analysis of their well-known Q12 index on employee engagement, Gallup found just 11 percent of employees are engaged, leaving 69 percent not engaged, with 27 percent actively disengaged -- costing businesses billions in lost productivity every year.
In these financially turbulent times, employee engagement, and the role it can play in increasing productivity and profitability, is more important than it’s ever been. And while there are no "quick fix" solutions, the evolution of social intranets has given executives some powerful tools with which to boost engagement. A social intranet is no magic bullet, but it can have positive and measurable impacts.
The Engage for Success report found there are four enablers of engagement, which together make for successful employee engagement programs. Social intranets provide a means by which each of these enablers can be embedded within an organization, making them essential tools with which to boost engagement and reap the rewards in increased productivity.
The Engage for Success research found the highest-performing organizations have visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organization -- where it’s come from and where it’s going.
Whether employees understand and are committed to their organization’s mission or purpose has a huge bearing on whether they say, stay and strive.
Using a good social intranet, organizations can give their employees a strong sense of their mission. That means moving beyond a one-line mission statement toward regular communications on what that means in practice. Successful organizations use their intranets to communicate both their objectives and their performance against them, and provide further context and narrative to deepen understanding.
Features such as CEO blogs and activity streams provide a both means by which senior leaders can increase their visibility, and channels on which they can contextualize and humanize the company’s mission.
Line managers play a vital role in engaging their teams. Managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat people as individuals, and coach and stretch their people are rewarded with higher engagement and performance.
Employees who recently received praise at work are more likely to be engaged; social intranets are a great mechanism for managers and colleagues to recognize achievement by individuals or teams. As this is broadcast rather than delivered privately, not only is it seen more widely, but others can add their own praise, amplifying its effect overall.
Social intranets enable peer-to-peer as well as top-down recognition, often making this as simple as clicking a "like" button or tagging a colleague in a status update -- helping to reinforce positive behaviors within the organization and recognizing work well done.
Bringing recognition online is just one of the ways social intranets can support good line management. By giving each employee a voice and a face, they also allow individuals to increase their own visibility through their social profiles.
Thanks to Facebook, employees have become comfortable with managing their own online presence -- and feel powerless when unable to do so, as is the case on more traditional intranets. Social intranets invite users to post information about themselves, their interests and their expertise, allowing others to find and connect with them as individuals with specific skills, rather than simply as part of a functional unit.