Digital Workplace Insights

Using a Social Intranet to Improve Workplace Transparency

Do your employees trust you? According to a 2014 American Psychological Association Survey, 1 in 4 workers don’t trust their employers. That’s quite significant. From the 1,562 people surveyed, about half believed their employers were not upfront with them.

If your workforce does not trust you, everything from productivity, communication, and quality of work will decrease. It makes sense. But this does not mean companies are doomed if employees don’t trust them. Hill + Knowlton Strategies recently surveyed 1,000 respondents, and 82% believed that a company could regain their trust. To do this, these respondents identified “honest and transparent communication” to be the most important factor for developing this trust, even if the company fell short of its goals.

In this article, we look at ways to boost workplace transparency to increase trust using a social intranet.

Transparency Can Keep You Afloat During Recession

There is no better example of this than Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). By running a blog for internal communications, Paul was able to keep his staff employed despite budget cuts during the 2008 recession.

Here’s what happened. Paul needed to fire lower-paid employees to keep the nurses, doctors, and other essential employees on the payroll. Instead of laying them off, he thought of a rather out-of-the-box solution. He asked employees to give up benefits, pay raises, and to even sacrifice a portion of their salaries to keep the lower-paid employees on the payroll. Some would expect the backlash to be significant. But by being transparent about the crisis and using the blog to communicate the issues, he received a largely positive response. You can read more about the story here.

We seem to forget, everyone is trying to pay their bills, take care of their families, and get to the next year without a financial crisis. A Social Intranet can help you leverage the “human” side of your organization through social collaboration.

Shorten the Business Cycle by Improving Happiness

When it comes to knowledge work, the turnaround time to produce a positive ROI is usually quite long. When you take complex and creative work into consideration, the research shows that happiness is correlated to sustained activity overtime while lower levels of happiness show a drop in productivity.

So how can a Social Intranet improve employee happiness?

An Enterprise Social Network allows employees to stay connected with team members and also connect with senior leadership. This is important considering that a lack of social connections is a large contributor to unhappiness. Employees don’t only have to communicate about work, but they can share their hobbies and interests to spark relationships through common ground. Also, it will allow employees to stay on top of the latest news and to understand how their work helps towards reaching the overall goals of the organization.

Track the Effects of Organizational Change

From software changes to policy changes, you want to know if there is a positive effect. Are your employees happy with the change? Is their productivity improving? Usually, questions like this could take an HR department weeks and even months to accurately survey. With a Social Intranet, a company can leverage communication channels such as forums and content comments to monitor and track the current state of employee satisfaction. By giving employees the freedom to communicate openly, you won’t have to take weeks to survey them (and wonder if they even answered your survey honestly). Instead, you can view what people are saying on the enterprise social network.

Also, every organization wants to get the best out of their employees. One of the best ways to do this is to induce the state of flow among executives and employees. According to a Mckinsey study, CEOs who were in “flow” were 5 times more productive than their non-flowing counterparts. In the book Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow is the feeling of full engagement and immersion when operating at a high skill level to achieve a big challenge. Many organizations are starting to recognize the importance of this mind state.

With that said, an Intranet can help you measure the productivity of an organization by measuring how long it takes employees to complete tasks. Also, you can measure their ability to focus which is a key ingredient to flow (are they switching from work to Twitter every 10 minutes?). Here’s the key: you want to let employees know that you are doing this (we are trying to be transparent, remember!). And, you should be clear that you are not targeting people individually. This is only for company-wide purposes.

Improve Employee Engagement through Social Collaboration

In a recent Harvard Business Review employee engagement survey, it was revealed that 70 percent of employees were most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates the company strategy.

Your Intranet can serve as a hub of social collaboration. Also, comments and posts on the company Intranet can be attributed to the actual person who is sending out the messages. There are several reasons why this helps:

  1. Employees can stay in the loop and see the effects of their hard work
  2. Improved communication can help induce “meaning” into their work, and
  3. Personal attribution leads to more thoughtful responses and connects employees to the communicator.

When 28% of millennial feeling underutilized (Deloitte 2015), it is important that companies focus on getting the most out of their current workers (rather than hiring more unproductive workers).

Retain Key Employees Within the Organization

Did you know that 37% of employees quit their job due to a poor opinion about their boss’s performance? Usually, this is not because their boss is incompetent. It has to do with trust. And it is no surprise that this is the case. When 89% of employers think employees leave for more money, when in reality, only 12% of employees leaves for more money — there is an obvious disconnect between management and workers.

As we said before, an Intranet can help you improve employee engagement. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave than their disengaged counterparts. It costs way too much to lose a key employee. Depending on experience, it costs anywhere between 30%-400% of an employee’s salary to replace them. Ouch.

Conclusion

A Social Intranet is a powerful tool for transparency. It can assist you with increasing employee productivity, happiness, and trust. For any HR department or employee-minded CEO, these benefits are often critical for organizational success. To instill these feelings throughout the organization, you need the right tools to communicate your message. It can be as simple as complimenting the hard work of standout employees every week with a spotlight blog post. According to a workplace survey by American Psychology Association Harrison Interactive, 60% of employees are more likely to report that they are motivated to do their best when they feel valued by their employers. So, when you are happy with someone’s performance, don’t just feel that way, show it.

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