Use Social Collaboration to Create a Welcoming, Productive Workplace

By David F. Carr

Enterprise social networks can make a workplace more friendly, creative, welcoming, and fun. Here are some of the ways that you can use social collaboration to help create a better workplace:

  • On-board new employees. You can introduce new colleagues to a support network of co-workers and people who can answer questions. The activity stream is a great place to introduce new hires, and you may even introduce a new hire to groups that are relevant to the person’s position and responsibilities, if that option is available.

  • Bring the corporate directory to life. A social collaboration system includes social activity and shared content, not just basic phonebook info.

  • Extend learning opportunities. In a social collaboration system, networked learning can extend beyond the boundaries of what’s taught in formal corporate training. There may be no course that covers what an employee needs to learn but plenty of people willing to teach or coach the motivated learner. The network can also supplement more formal training, through social groups students participate in parallel with class work, which they retain access to after the class is over.

  • Provide employees with ongoing feedback. Performance review time isn’t the only time that employees need feedback. In a social collaboration network, they can get ongoing coaching and recognition from peers as well as supervisors.

  • Engage employees. Within the activity stream, within groups, or wherever is appropriate, you can actively involve employees in discussing the goals and future of the business or their part of it.

  • Identify the best collaborators. Analyzing patterns of collaboration to understand which people and groups are working together most actively. A manager who pays attention to those patterns will know which teams to assign to projects requiring collaborative work.

  • Flattening the organization. You can shorten the chain of command and streamline organizational communications by letting the CEO and other top leaders engage in two-way communication with employees at every level.

  • Help colleagues communicate beyond silos. Encourage collaboration across business units and functions by making it easier (opening the door to productive uses).

  • Court “digital natives.” As new employees who have grown up with social media enter the workforce, while others have their expectations raised by consumer technologies, using social collaboration helps make work systems feel more competitive with those we enjoy at home. For example, a social collaboration network that works well on mobile devices will be attractive to an employee who has grown used to being able to do everything on a smartphone.

  • Unite the workforce. Make employees feel more connected to each other and the organization, which tends to make them feel more engaged and happier in their work. A social collaboration network makes it possible to get the big picture of what is going on in the company, no matter how organizationally or geographically distant from the individual employee.

  • Establish or reinforce a productive, effective corporate culture. You want your people working to act like part of the same team. With its emphasis on sharing and cooperative work, a social collaboration network can help.