I’m passionate about Open Leadership, and the imperative to be open, authentic and transparent in the way we lead. This is all the more important when looking at how to engage employees, and tapping them for the bright shiny object de jour “employee advocacy.”
To that end, my colleague Jon Cifuentes and I are working on a new Altimeter report on how companies create holistic strategies that increase internal employee engagement and external employee advocacy. The report looks at the fundamental disconnect between organizations wanting active and engaged employees and the actual execution of employee collaboration, engagement, and advocacy efforts.
Three recent studies exemplify the problem.
- Gallup found that only 13% of employees worldwide are actively engaged while 24% are actively disengaged.
- A more optimistic report from Weber Shandwick, released just last week, found that while 47% of employees are ProActivists or PreActivists who are inclined to take positive action on behalf of their employers, 31% are HyperActivists, ReActivists, or outright Detractors who can hurt their employers with negative actions.
- IBM just published their CHRO study and found that only 42% of CHROs interviewed felt that they were effective at fostering employee engagement and commitment, and only 20% thought they were effective at addressing collaboration and information sharing challenges.
Technology is also having an impact. The vast majority of employees all have personal access to social media — and frequently use it to talk about work. Collaboration platforms and enterprise social networks like Chatter, Jive, and SharePoint/Yammer often connect employees at work. A rising plethora of employee advocacy platforms all aim to make it easier to engage and amplify the voices of employees. The biggest challenge that all of this technology creates is the expectation of openness and transparency that many organizations are still struggling with — at a theoretical level, they would love to see more employees speaking positively about the brand, but also worry about slip-ups like the most recent US Airway’s accidental porn tweet or HMV’s live tweeted firing dustup last year.
Three Types of Engagement for One Employee
To address these issues, we’ll be looking at employee engagement in three distinct areas, which typically involve three different activities, three different owners in the organization, and three different technology platforms. The problem: There’s one employee.
This evolving view of employee engagement boils down to the evolving relationship between the employer and employee – all aspects of work are changing in the face of this new dynamic. Digital engagement becomes not the end goal but the forcing function, providing a new context for the entire employee engagement strategy.
Our research will seek to answer questions for business leaders at the core of this conundrum:
- How do I develop a coherent and effective employee engagement and advocacy strategy, rather than a series of initiatives? What are the elements of a holistic strategy?
- How do I select, deploy, and integrate technology to create a foundation that also leads to and facilitates employee engagement and advocacy?
- What new leadership skills and organizational structures will be needed to create better coordination of employee engagement across the organization?
- How do I know that what I’m doing is working and making a difference? (The age-old measurement conundrum.)
How You Can Help Altimeter’s Research
Altimeter is committed to what we call “Open Research.” Rather than keep our research behind locked doors, we’re sharing this early peek with the hopes of getting external input. We’d love to hear about the following:
- Strategic approaches to overall employee engagement. Does your organization take a strategic approach to employee engagement? What other functions in the business are you integrating?
- Leadership and organization. What role does leadership have in the strategy? How are you breaking down silos across organizations to connect internal engagement with external advocacy?
- Use of technologies. How did you decide which tools to use to support your strategy? How are you planning to connect internal and external employee engagement platforms — if at all? How are you integrating with existing enterprise systems?
- Measurement and results. How do you connect your employee engagement strategy to business results? How do you think about measuring the overall strength and evolution of the employee relationship?
If you think you have a contribution that could be made, please fill out this very short form (also embedded below) so that we can collect your input in an orderly fashion. Please also note if you would be willing to be interviewed for best practices and case studies. All information collected will be used only for background purposes. We will seek specific and explicit permission for any information we intent to publish or use publicly. And of course, you are very welcome to email me or my colleague Jon Cifuentes if you have any questions or suggestions.