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.

About Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic is a world renowned medical center that specializes in clinical practice, education and research. Based out of the U.S., the three main campuses are located in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and this year alone they have treated over 1.3 million people from around the world who came to the clinic for care. Being the large institution that they are, they have roughly 64,000 personnel which speaks for everyone from physicians and scientists to administration and support staff. The main point of their  mission statement is that the needs of the patient always come first and this focus resonates strongly with all employees enabling them to provide an unparalleled patient experience.    

“Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”* I can’t help but relate this famous Winston Churchill quote to the current use of social media and other strategies at the Royal Canadian Legion and how the opportunities are just a page away.

Social media is often perceived in the business world only as a marketing tool that bolsters customer satisfaction and engagement. This client-centric approach limits the ways in which social media can be utilized as a positive tool in the workplace. Social media has many business applications that are not related to marketing, including strengthening employee engagement by improving internal communications.

In North America, many employees are disconnected and disengaged from their work, making them less productive. When an employee is engaged in their work, they are more focused and motivated, allowing companies to stay ahead of their competition. Internal social media platforms for employees to stay up to speed have become increasingly favoured in organizations and this will only continue to increase.  

When you go out for dinner with family or visit friends, it’s easy to see the obligatory question of the night creeping up: “So how is work?” For some, this question is followed by a very short answer, which, in turn, is followed quickly by the introduction of a new, more likable topic. But for others, that question is answered with great pride and joy in the work they are doing. So why don’t we all look forward to that question? Well there could be many reasons but in general terms it all boils down to company culture and employee engagement. A company’s culture is evident in how people get work done, how they communicate, and in the stories they tell their friends, family and followers. Culture and engagement are impacted by everything you do and start with the core of any company: it’s employees.

So, I avoided real life and chose the beer/food and fun arrow. The warm hop aroma met me at the door, followed by a smiling hostess with a warm “hello”. Immediately, I knew I made the right decision. The beer and food were delicious but above all else the atmosphere was magnetic. Looking around, everyone was having fun… especially the staff. It was obvious that they loved their job and had a genuine passion for craft beer. The Elora Brewing Company has only been operating for a little less than a year, but already it is evident that this is more like a family than a traditional business. The building itself, a former local hardware store in the picturesque town of Elora, Ontario, was completely renovated by local tradesmen, artisans, and current employees. Community involvement has been a big part of their plan from day one as locals and future staff members were encouraged to bring their sledge hammers and pitch in during construction. This approach built a foundation of community and employee brand ownership. This feeling of ownership has led employees to personal investment in the product, which shines through and ultimately drives sales.

It was late 2012, and the weather had just turned bitterly cold.  Despite the frost-bite warnings blanketing local media, I still found myself huddling against the warmth of the external siding of my heated garage, desperately determined to finish every last inch of my cigarette.  On the other side of the wall, I could hear the almost inaudible sounds of my husband; seated under the heater that brought the garage temperature up to a balmy 20 degrees, he was surrounded by the swirls of the sweetest smelling “smoke” I’d ever known – I was later to learn that it was called “Swedish Pastry”, and it was billowing from the tip of an impressive new gadget that he had picked up online a few weeks before.  Enter the (now much aligned) E-CIGARETTE.  Now, four years later, my husband works for the most lucrative e-cigarette business in Alberta – possibly even Canada – and I am proud to say that in those four years, though the battle was sometimes fierce, I am now vaping in my home office as I write this.

It is no secret to major brands that consumers’ faith towards regular brand messaging is decreasing. According to Erik Qualman from http://www.socialnomics.net/, 90% of consumers trust peer-to-peer brand recommendations, as opposed to 14% of consumers who trust advertisers. Brands now know that their employees are their best spokespeople on social media. The “State of the Global Workplace Report” reveals that 40% of engaged employees cite their company’s social media communication as the source for keeping informed on important news But how can companies get their employees involved on social media?

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to stop into the Klick offices in Toronto for a little visit. I must say, I left their office in quite the amazement! From their kitchen equipped with a popcorn machine and a chest-freezer filled with ice-cream, to their living plant walls, yoga studio, or social area furnished with game consoles; It was obvious that this organization cares and invests in their employees more than anything else. For Leerom Segal, Klick’s Co-Founder and CEO, he believes that with the right company culture, they can attract and retain the best and brightest employees. Happy employees generally means better productivity, higher quality products, and ultimately happy customers. Klick has been recognized as a Top 5 Great Place to Work company, has been in the top 10 for two consecutive years now, and also celebrates 5 consecutive years for being named a “Best Employer” by Aon Hewitt. Holding such prestigious titles, it’s no wonder why anyone who aspires to work for an organization that promotes growth and fun would want to work for Klick. The Relentless Pursuit of Awesome is this organization’s commitment – whether it be the company’s products and services, or it’s company culture.  

Employee empowerment. While many companies around the world claim to empower their employees on a daily basis, many times, their actions don’t support their claims. Could it be that, in 2016, companies still don’t understand the value of employee engagement? It seems so. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that other priorities like customers, sales, profits and, well, money, are important. After all, without profits, most companies won’t be able to keep their employees around, right? But, maybe they should be looking at it the other way around: without their employees, they can’t do business. From what I can see, Adobe, recently valued at $4 billion, seems to have figured out that, happy “everyday” employees make the best brand ambassadors.

Social media is one of the fastest-growing industries in today’s interconnected world. People more or less have relationship with social media in their daily lives. This gives organization a new situation to face — like it or not, your employees’ uses of their own social media channels could put the organization exposed to the public in good or bad way. There are challenges and opportunities living together. On one hand, it will give organization more promotion opportunities. On the other hand, employee’s wrong or negative mention of organization on social media will possibly bring crisis to organization. Organization should more likely deal with it as an issue or take the initiative to leverage employee’s social media resources for its use? Corby Spirit and Wine’s best practices in promoting responsible drinking give a successful example of how organization uses social media to enable employee to become more involve in organization’s missions.

From word processing in the 80’s, to e-mail in the 90’s advancing technology is continuously changing the way that employees collaborate within organizations. Today global organizations such as Pearson are faced with the challenge of adopting new technologies that enable their ever growing number of employees to collaborate effectively.   The Pearson Problem In March 2010 Pearson executives found themselves faced with over 100 HR systems, 134 separate intranets and a fragmented email system. Pearson’s CEO, Marjorie Scardino, recognized that the employees across their 400 subsidiaries were heavily divided and struggling communicate and collaborate. They were one organization, but not one family. This was a concern as it was clearly not efficient and was only going to grow as they continued to acquire new companies. Scardino saw the need for a change, but with over 27,000 employees situated across 70 countries how would Pearson effectively connect all of their employees across continents and ultimately generate collaboration?

As one of the largest engineering companies in the world, the German-headquartered Siemens Corporation boasts nearly 350,000 employees in over 200 countries. 1 As a company they possess the belief that “an engaged workforce drives innovation, growth and profitability”2 but how do you engage a workforce of that magnitude?

  Faster than pulling a corto shot of premium espresso, illy is driving employee engagement, and training their North American sales force by leveraging a simple yet effective social approach – online games.

Aecon has been voted one of the Top Employers in Canada for 8 consecutive years. This is an enormously significant accomplishment because the winners are determined by employees. It is a delicate balance to have the company and its employees continuously support each other to ensure success for both parties. Like any good relationship, this balance relies on communication.

Ten years ago I interviewed for a part-time Sales Associate position for a new store opening.   The company was Hennes & Mauritz Inc., now universally known as H&M. What started out as a part-time job for me eventually developed into a full-time career as a Visual Manager for one of their store locations.  That would not have been possible if it wasn’t for a combination of training initiatives from various managers and store teams who believed in me and my potential.  Today, H&M has the benefit of social media platforms that enable the company to develop, train and engage current employees as well as scout and hire potential employees. Living and practising our seven core values is what makes H&M employees stand out from the rest.  Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup said it perfectly, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace”.  These are wise words to live by when your employees are in the business of serving customers.  How does a company go about achieving such a task?  According to Laura Hammond, H&M’s Employee Relations Specialist, “we have to find ways to make H&M a better place to work”.  Maria C. Gonzalez from the Department of Sociology at the University of Oviedo, Spain wrote an article about workers’ direct participation at the workplace and its effect on job quality. She stated, “for the business, direct participation elicits workers’ tacit knowledge and improves communications while raising workers’ awareness of the business situation and improving labour productivity and flexibility”.

General Electric has more than longevity going for them. The perennial Fortune 500 Company is 124 years old in 2016, but from any angle, GE doesn’t look any older than the tech-savviest millennial. For more or less their entire existence, GE has been known for innovation and timeless quality of their products. They’re a name consumers trust and one competitors envy. These days however, a company is rarely able to get by on their historical reputation alone. In addition to needing great products and having a great legacy, in order to thrive they also need to have engaged employees and a comprehensive new media strategy.

Humankind has an obvious desire to connect with others. To share our lives with one another and feel like we are part of something. The search to find a place of connection and belonging is a common and relatable subject, just look to movies and television to see the reoccurring theme. That theme, that sense of connecting with others also carries into the workplace. Companies and organizations are pushing to create workplaces that engage employees and provide them an environment where they can feel connected. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey, the biggest challenge companies are facing around the world is employee engagement and culture issues (Brown, Chheng, Melian & Solow, 2015). Engagement corresponds closely with retention as employers fight to compare to the images of companies like Google and Facebook. A quick online search of ‘corporate culture’ results in an extraordinarily long list of articles, blogs and research pieces, one that I often research myself as an employee seeking improve the workplace culture within my own company. What makes a great corporate culture? How does it become an integrated part of the employee mentality, instead of simply a talking point?

Wow, I can’t believe this is my first blog ever!  So readers, please be gentle. We all know that happiness has a ripple effect. When we are happy we want everyone to be happy.   According to Forbes, “There’s plenty of hard evidence that shows that happy employees lead directly to better performance and higher profits. Last year revenues increased by an average of 22.2 percent for the 2014 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these same companies added new employees at a rate that was five times higher than the national average.”[1] I am super excited about the topic of: Employee Engagement.   Heck, why wouldn’t I be? I am an employee after all.  What does it take to engage an employee like myself?  I pondered this question as I spun through the great wide web.  I was amazed at the lengths some companies have gone through to keep their employees connected and happy in this digital era of ours. This trend is increasingly apparent in the Hi-Tech sector. I chose to write about Shopify because they are a passionate company with a culture that contributes to employee engagement.  They were also recognized as one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ for 2013. [2] For those who still haven’t heard about this kickass company here is some background for you folks. From its humble beginnings in 2004 and the ingenious minds of 3 young entrepreneurs looking to sell snowboards online (Snowdevil) came the birth of Shopify. A leading cloud based solutions provider that targets companies of all sizes.  Its unique platform allows business to add value to their storefronts with a variety of tools including a third party market place. There are over 200,000 companies using Shopify based in 150 countries. Shopify has offices in Toronto, Waterloo, and is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.   A powerhouse in the market place Shopify Inc’s (SHOP.N) (SH.TO) shares rose as much as 69 percent in their U.S. debut, valuing the company at about $2.14 billion. [3] At Shopify happiness is built into their very culture, they have designed and implemented every detail to ensure it flows through out the whole organization. Check out Daniel Weinand, Co-founder and Chief Cultural Officer  (Yeah, you read that right!), giving us a peek at their Ottawa office and describing some of their many perks. Still not convinced then please view the YouTube video Life at Shopify

Innovation is an Inherent Corporate Trait With Google; The Way They Treat Their Employees is no Different.

Forrester Hinds   October 12, 2015

Organisation name: Google Industry: Internet Information Provider. Employees and adaptive management techniques are what drives a business’s success, one concept Google understands. Google workers, dubbed Googlers, are graced with the ability to work on important projects, meet the company’s leaders, and collaborate with other employees. Take Google Employee Noah Levin; working in interaction design with the company, he was approached… Read more »

Bomb Threats, An Airline and Social Media

Lynn Jeffries   October 12, 2015

Organization: WestJet Airlines Industry: Aviation Contact:Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations Richard Bartrem Resources: Twitter, WestJet Website, Facebook, YouTube Wikipedia What does an airline do when they receive 5 hoax bomb threats over a 4 day period? If you’re WestJet  you engage your customers on social media.   Historically when it comes to bomb threats and aviation, traditional media is cautious with information that is released… Read more »

Join REI! Get Paid To Blog.

FBatarse   October 11, 2015
Recreational_Equipment_Inc_(logo)

Organization Name: REI “Recreational Equipment Inc” Industry: Recreational Retail, Outdoor/Travel Consulting Web Reference: About REI, Employee Participation Social Media is huge, face it! So when REI launched its affiliate program, it was a no brainer. The organization is clear to note: “you are more likely to meet an employee online in the digital media space”. However, the company is also… Read more »

How Molson Coors Communicates with their Employees

Meg Walsh   October 8, 2015
Molson Coors logo

Organization Name: Molson Coors Industry: Leading Global Brewer In todays day and age it is becoming increasingly more difficult for companies to communicate messages to their consumers, due to all marketing ‘noise’, but they’re also struggling with communicating with their employees. Many organizations depend on email communications to their employees and assume that they are being read. This can be a… Read more »

Ceridian Employee Empowerment: Social Media Conversations

m234ali   October 7, 2015
CeridianAwardWinners_400

Organization Name: Ceridian Canada A leader in cloud based, human capital management systems, Ceridian has made a name for itself in the industry – and even if you haven’t heard of Ceridian, there’s a good chance you are managed by one of their systems or will be in your future employment. Ceridian’s Dayforce HCM, for example, is a leading solution… Read more »

Employee Involvement: The Home Depot Way

bmfwong   October 7, 2015

  Organisation Name: The Home Depot Industry: Retail References: The Home Depot, Forbes, Team Depot, Babson College Background From the start, the Home Depot made a strategic decision to do a long-term approach by training its employees to form enduring customer relationships rather than push for incremental sales gains. As a result, the Home Depot grew very quickly becoming the fastest retailer in history to reach sales milestones… Read more »