Employee Involvement

Involving employees more effectively in your organization can significantly increase their motivation and contribute directly to your organizational performance. By better informing employees about changes that are happening in the organization and enabling them to express their concerns and contribute their ideas, change can be better planned, proceed more smoothly and yield results more quickly.

Better organizational participation can improve processes and morale, and contribute to a more innovative and energized corporate culture. Social media is being applied in many organizations to do this now.

Background Parmalat is one of the largest food companies in Canada with $2.2 billion annual revenues. The company is a marketer of such popular retail brands as Black Diamond cheese, Ficello Cheese Strings, Astro Yogurt, Lactancia Milk & Butter and Balderson cheese. The company has a large and diverse work force of 2,900 people, operating a large corporate office in Toronto, 2 major sales offices in Calgary and Montreal and 16 manufacturing plants across Canada. Challenge Given the scale and complexity of its work force, Parmalat Canada has been searching for effective ways of promoting company’s values and increasing employee engagement across many branches with their unique geography, organizational culture and regional dynamics. This challenge is especially magnified by the company’s work force composition – only about 30% of work force is full-time employees working in main offices or plants, whereas 70% of workers are part-time hourly workers at various plants. The HR Department has turned to Social Media to increase employees engagement. The idea was to encourage company’s employees to share new ideas on  improve various aspects of company’s operations ranging from work processes, life balance, health & safety and even new product ideas. Social Media Solution The choice of social media tools that will allow for maximum participation in the initiative was difficult one. The company’s digital culture has been defined by work force average age (40+), and a long practice of using IBM Lotus Notes as a major source of all inter-company communication. As such, the HR department has opted for finding new ways of using existing technologies, expanding their ability to function as social media tool as opposed to creating new social spaces on Intranet or developing dedicated digital applications modeled after popular applications like Facebook, My Space etc. Towards that end, the corporate Lotus Notes was re-designed to give birth to a large digital project called “Parmalat’s New Ideas” that allowed employees to integrate social media functions with their regular activities on the Intranet.  The new platform provided capabilities to share and discuss ideas on various topics and select the best ideas by employees voting (15 votes required to put the idea for the Senior Management consideration). Real Life Roll-out/Early Wins In 2015, the Communication Manager, Ambra Salzburg, led the roll-out of this initiative to employees in a series of in-person meetings across different regions. Since then, the program has significantly exceeded initial expectations of… Read more »

The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the world’s leading museums in regard to natural history and world cultures. Given this fact, one might assume that an institution such as The ROM would want to keep it’s knowledge within it’s walls; however that is not the case. The ROM is arguably one of the most social and tech savvy learning institutions in the country. This is due by and large to their philosophy on social media and their social media coordinating team. Through online communication, The ROM hopes to build strong community connections and encourages individuals to engage in conversations and debates with their experts and employees directly.

Connecting with others is one of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers philosophy.  It all started in founder Jean Nidetch’s living room in the early 1960’s.  Since then the company’s program and philosophy around how people connect has evolved keeping them not only relevant but also  making them a social media powerhouse. The company today has created a social media frenzy empowering it’s members to share their weight loss journey not only on traditional social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube but also on their own social media within their own app on a forum called Connect.  The true genius behind this is that Weight Watchers employees are also plan members.  What it creates is a level of excitement, accountability and transparency that you can’t bottle but most of their industry counterparts would love to recreate.

If you rewind seven or eight years ago, many organizations prohibited employees from accessing social websites on company computers viewing this new trend as a distraction and risk to business. However, the rise of smartphones made it nearly impossible to block the use entirely. Fast-forward to today and you’ll notice times have changed as to how social media is perceived in the business world. Instead of frowning upon sharing thoughts and ideas digitally, businesses now invest in social media tools for internal use. After all, the benefits of having a highly engaged workforce far outweighs the risk. EY (formerly Ernst and Young) is one of the largest professional services firm in the world and specializes in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. EY is progressive in their approach to leveraging the power of social media to drive employee engagement. They have published performance reports such as Change 3.0: Using Social Media to Engage Your Workforce that discusses their research and the benefits of going social in the workplace. Currently with over 230,000 employees in over 150 countries, as well as an increasing number of Millennial employees joining the team, social media is a key part to building positive culture, engaging employees and delivering results.

Not long ago, company picnics, water cooler talk, bulletin boards and office memos were the biggest tools in a company’s “employee engagement toolbox”.  Although business information eventually made it to every ear in the company, it’s dissemination was slow and arduous. Flash forward to today, where information is in your hands micro-seconds after it is made public by company heads, management and team leaders.  As a result, companies have been forced to jump into the digital era or risk losing the opportunity to rally their employees and make them feel, not only part of the team, but part of the business family.

L’Oréal  is a global leader in cosmetics, beauty and grooming with companies in more than 70 countries representing over 130 product lines.  The company is highly revered as a desired place to work and has  been awarded with several “top employer” awards  globally from various respected entities including Forbes magazine , Glassdoor  and Montréal’s Top Employers .   There are several factors that have contributed to this top employer recognition, one of which is the strong, positive corporate culture they’ve manifested through employee engagement and empowerment via social media.    Although counterintuitive for many companies, L’Oréal has embraced the use of social media by it employees.  In fact, it encourages it.  Social media for most companies is perceived as a distraction and a hindrance to productivity.  As a result, social media policy is typically created with the objective of restricting its usage.    Conversely, L’Oréal, views social media  policy as an opportunity to enlighten employees on its benefits and an opportunity to shed light on the tools and tactics that can be applied to use it effectively to shape desired behaviours.   

When you’re a global company with employees stationed around the world it’s easy to assume employees in one country know little to nothing about employees or happenings in other offices, but at Unitron, it’s quite the opposite. According to their global LinkedIn profile, it’s “a great thing to be a part of a culture that thrives on making the unexpected happen, and where team members’ work together to go the extra mile for customers.” The “company that designs and manufactures really great hearing instruments” has more than 20 offices around the world with their corporate headquarters located in Kitchener, Ontario.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest and most disruptive professional network with over 467 million members in over 200 countries and territories. When I tell people I work at LinkedIn, one of the most popular questions I receive is whether our environment is like Google… then I get asked whether we’re hiring. (The answer to both questions, I would say, is yes.) We are a dynamic company that is fiercely proud of our culture. One of the easiest ways for us to show who we are – beyond the company that sends out connection requests – is by using our hashtag #linkedinlife. Created in early 2015, #linkedinlife has moved beyond LinkedIn into other social platforms, and is being used by employees all over the world to demonstrate the breadth of our culture and our humanity beyond the work we do.    

According to Intercom, “The way businesses talk to people online is broken. Intercom is fixing it. Intercom is the first to bring messaging products for sales, marketing & customer service to one platform, helping businesses avoid the stiff, spammy status quo and have real conversations that build real connections.” Intercom describes its platform as “simple, personal, and fun for everyone”, and a growing number of customers obviously agree. According to Alex Konrad, staff writer for venture capital, startups and enterprise tech at Forbes, “Intercom is now adding 600 paid customers and $1 million in new revenue every 10 days.”

Lutherwood is a non-profit providing that provides children’s mental health, employment and housing services to more than 16, 600 people annually in the Waterloo Region and Wellington County.  It also operates Lutherwood Village on the Park a retirement community in Waterloo, and Lutherwood Child and Family Foundation.  Its mission is to “inspire hope and strengthen lives by offering high quality mental health, employment and housing services”.  Operating for more than 45 years, Lutherwood’s leadership credits having motivated, engaged and happy employees as the key reason for its ongoing success.

A new approach to employee involvement The L’Oréal Group developed a two prong social media strategy to engage existing employees and compete for top talent. L’Oréal is the world’s largest beauty and cosmetics firm with its head office in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France. Offerings include hair products, skin care, sun protection, make-up, and perfume. With increased employee engagement through social media, L’Oréal has been able to demonstrate the benefits of its corporate culture to a broader audience.

Schneider Electric SE or Schneider, is a multinational organization specialized in energy management and automation solutions. It is headquartered in France, Paris also known as Le Hive with more than 160K employees. Speaking of multinational organizations , Schneider Electric undoubtedly connects employee from different countries together through various programs and communication media, and this is the real definition of employee engagement in my opinion. Schneider Electric as one of the leaders promoting Internet of Things IOT and connected devices in the Electrical industry business (The EcoStruxure Platform) has also taken the idea to the next step by engaging employees to share and brainstorm their brilliant ideas through connected systems by different communication platforms. SE intranet SPICE portal for instance!

  Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) is a not-for-profit organization based in Leamington, Ontario. OGVG was formed in 1967, representing approximately 220 members who grow greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers on over 2,500 acres in Ontario, Canada. OGVG works hard to promote and connect its growers with government agencies, consumers, retailers and foodservice operators across North America through various government lobbing events, research, marketing initiatives, trade shows and community activities. As a whole, OGVG strives to support the Ontario greenhouse vegetable sector and its growers, however possible, to ensure success for today, sustainability for tomorrow, and fresh, nutritious, quality produce for all!

Today, business happens at lightning speed. Organizations are building internal social media platforms to encourage knowledge sharing and creative thinking. They are also discovering benefits of internal social media platform in their workplaces – employees can be powerful brand ambassadors, encouraging social media interaction can strengthen engagement between colleagues and when an employee is actively involved they become more invested in the outcomes. Great-West Life, leading Canadian insurer is utilizing their social media (facebook, twitter, YouTube channel) brilliantly not only with their clients but also employees, introducing various internal communications campaigns.

For small town non-profit, WES For Youth Online, social media plays a large role in volunteer involvement. As a small organization, WES For Youth Online currently has less than a hand full of staff members on pay role. To wear as many hats, and play as many roles as these individuals do on a regular basis takes real passion. Therefore, their issue doesn’t lie in keeping employees engaged and connected; the question is, how do they keep their volunteers involved? The answer… social media.

Starting out in a 1 room unit back in 1999, Saysons Web Design & Printing has grown to be the go-to hub for small to medium businesses in Brampton, Ontario to help with their marketing and technological needs. The team of Shafia Hussaini and Ilyas Yazdani combine to use their respective skills in a joint proprietorship that would allow for them to run their own organization and at the same time, provide the expertise and creativity needed for other businesses to stand out among a crowded and competitive environment. Saysons has developed a unique team that spans worldwide and not just offers graphic design services, but also IT solutions, web design, hosting options, and valuable marketing & consulting help.

When it comes to social media, most of the time it is the IT and retail companies actively engage with their employees and customers through digital channel. Unlike many traditional manufacturing companies who struggle with effective social media communication, Cummins, a Fortune 500 tech giant, knows how to make the most of social media to engage with its employees.

Professor Justin Bruckmann walked into his martial arts academy on September 8th, 2016, expecting a normal day of teaching classes. What he was instead greeted by was the destruction of his life’s work. The club’s hot water tank had burst, flooding the entire building. Nothing could be salvaged, from the floor mats, to the washrooms and Justin was left waiting for insurance to pick up the pieces. With nothing to do but wait, Justin turned to his social media network to spread the terrible news, there were classes to teach and no academy to house the students. What happened next was a perfect example of employee involvement helping an organization recover and thrive.

As excitement continues to build for the Jays, I started thinking about how this week’s topic of Social Media and Employee Involvement draws several parallels to baseball. Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) is a solid team. It’s one of “Canada’s most shopped general merchandise retailers” (CTC, 2015)  and is “strengthened and supported by a Financial Services sector (CTFS).” (CTC, 2015). Yes, its outfield is well positioned with a vast external Social Media presence; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Linkedin, but its infield is quite impressive and should be commended as well. The use of Social Media within this company has been a key contributor to involving their employees.

While the success of a company or business is dependent on the product or service offered, its long-term success is heavily dependent on engaged employees. Without dedication and a desire from staff to want to do their best work, the long-term success of a company is all too often going to falter. So what makes for a truly engaged workforce? There are many things that can contribute – recognition, remuneration, growth opportunities – but perhaps one of the most important aspects is staff involvement. There are many approaches companies can take to engage staff. Having been ranked as one of the top 5 employers in Hamilton in 2016, I turned to McMaster University to explore their approach to, in their words, create a work environment for staff that encompasses respect, recognition and engagement.

Going to the dentist for most of us can be a stressful visit and many patients suffer from anxiety before going to the dentist.  At a visit to Gardner Dental Group (Burlington, Ontario) they do their best to make the patient visit a relaxing and enjoyable experience. From the moment you step into their office you are greeted with a friendly smile in a modern environment. You have the choice of three waiting areas; a quiet reading room, a TV room or an arcade room that actually includes retro video games!  This made me think …the patients are likely at peace in this setting…but how does the practice maintain the morale and engagement of the employees?

When William Booth founded The Salvation Army back in 1882, he based much of its mission on the concept of “adapting to attract.”  Employees of the Ontario Central East Division of The Salvation Army have recognized that utilizing the social media communication methods of today is in keeping with that concept, which is one of the reasons they are looking to Facebook Groups to help employees plan their 2016 Christmas Kettle Campaign.

FedEx made a concerted effort in 2012 to develop a social learning strategy to encourage their employees to share knowledge to drive continuous improvement at the company. The results were better than expected prompting the Great Place to Work Institute to praise the company for “developing social media to…improve communications and manage the company’s reputation internally…”

Employee engagement is measured by how happy and involved an organization’s employees are with their work.2 In more recent years, employers have been looking for ways to ensure that their employees feel committed to the organization’s values, goals, and success. Many organizations have now taken varying approaches to achieve this motivation and contentment among their employees, and Google is staying ahead of the trend by using innovation to increase engagement.

Employee engagement is a vital element of a successful and productive work environment. 1  Companies like Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants (herein referred to as “O&B”) have been empowering their employees for years, which has helped them become one of Canada’s top fine dining restaurant companies. Their employees are passionate, energetic and have a sense of pride when speaking about their employers. O&B operates a portfolio of unique and innovative restaurants across Ontario3.