The acceleration of focus on employee engagement since 2005
This is the second in a five part series interview with Graeme Ginsberg from London. Graeme is the Managing Editor, Research and Reports for Melcrum – the international research and training company focused on internal communication. I requested the interview go get a better understanding of Melcrum’s research and their current publication: The Practitioner’s Guide, Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement.
Aside from the changing business environment, are there any other factors that you think have encouraged such an acceleration of focus on employee engagement since 2005?
I think that socioeconomic trends have had a colossal impact. Organizations have been understanding and adapting to the changing business environment, but they’ve also been understanding and adapting to the changes in employee attitudes, values and behaviors. Ten years ago, the Internet was beginning to give people more tools to question what they were being told. They could quickly and easily go online, get back all sorts of data and viewpoints, and develop their own, informed opinions. Since then, this has really mushroomed – not only access to more information, but also the ability to express themselves, to discuss and share views extensively through interactive social media – blogs, online video like YouTube, podcasting, wikis and social networks like Facebook and Second Life.
People use these technologies in their personal lives and they expect to use them at work. They aren’t going to accept traditional, ‘static’ communications and channels anymore. Even email has become old-fashioned and frustrating for them – their inboxes are totally overloaded with endless emails containing lines and lines of dry text. Organizations have really had to re-examine how they phrase, present and deliver their communications to employees. Quite simply, if communications aren’t engaging, employees won’t give them the time of day.
We did a social media survey in June 2007 for our report How to Use Social Media to Engage Employees and I think this really illustrates just how seriously organizations have been taking engagement and changes in employee behaviors and needs when it comes to technology. For example, half the respondents (communication and HR professionals) said their organizations were already using online video to engage employees and another 27% said they would be introducing it by June 2008. Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents said their organizations were already using online social networks, and another quarter were set to introduce them by June 2008. Organizations are definitely taking note of what people are doing in their personal lives. But, there again, it’s not totally surprising. A lot of the time we’re talking about “organizations listening to their audiences”, but it’s not “us and them” – a lot of these respondents have been using these technologies in their personal lives themselves.
Part 3 (next post): Key Drivers of Employee Engagement.