Internal communications are evolving, and creating cross functional platforms, with technology that is already being used by people on a day-to-day basis is becoming more common. This presents organisations with an additional challenge – embrace and benefit from social communications, and make them accessible even to a demographically diverse workforce. A recent study by global consultancy McKinsey & Co, said that
“By using social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.”
The importance of this then cannot be understated, however organisations often appear eager to find shortfalls in combining social platforms and internal communication structures. A new mindset is required, one that doesn’t see a differentiation between a conversation between colleagues held at 11PM and one held at 9AM. The new increasingly mobile and international workforce, including contract and independent workers, means that an open dialogue can be difficult if not impossible to achieve using traditional methods.
Once it is agreed that more open communication is a good thing, it can then flow in one of two directions. An organisation can choose to use existing platforms, or to utilise their own proprietary systems. If using their own systems, the challenge then becomes encouraging staff to engage with the platform effectively, and without resorting to other methods due to frustration. The McKinsey report points to the importance of collaboration, and as part of that, increasing the conversation from a functionary question and answer session to problem-solving and spirited discussion. In this, companies should look to marketing models used to drive traffic to target sites as an effective model.
The most effective marketing businesses, create compelling reasons for their audience to visit them. From an internal standpoint, this is a chance for businesses to look beyond the traditional, “company news,” model, and focus on building an easy-to-use and navigate user interface, combined with emotionally appealing and diverse content. By bringing people to the platform for reasons outside of conversation, and making it easy for them to begin a dialogue – and quite possibly giving them examples of what a suitable conversation would look like – a higher level of engagement, and reliance on the platform as a base communication model is more likely to be achieved.
There is also the opportunity to “tack on”, applications such as Slack, which have built in chat functions, and offer options for private discussions if needs be. It’s important to remember, that the purpose of this is not to monitor discussion but to encourage it, and many businesses make the mistake of prioritising the business’s ability to see what is being said, over encouraging the conversation to begin with.
By encouraging social interaction online, regardless of how it’s achieved, increased productivity, and quite possibly a more proactive workforce can be the result.