I have previously written about an ongoing shift driving organizations to move from business enterprises to social enterprises. One of the key factors driving this shift is the newfound power of the individual — the unprecedented ability to personalize their work experience and influence what others think and feel about their organization. Connecting workers to one another and to the organization’s broader purpose is key to operating in the social enterprise.
Being connected is a fact of modern life, and workplaces are no exception. Connectivity has become so pervasive that we now talk about disconnecting as the exception, and for some even an escape. People expect to connect at work like they do everywhere else — on their terms, wherever they are and in a way that is very personal.
Meeting these expectations presents several challenges for organizations: how to provide the right level of connectivity without overwhelming, how to connect the external and internal environments and how to address individual preferences and priorities in a diverse workforce.
Digital engagement tools enable employees to personalize their interactions and access information their preferred way. (Full disclosure: Deloitte is one provider, among others, of such tools.) These tools foster independence while, ironically, helping individuals better connect to their workplace communities. They bring together today’s diverse workforce of people with varying backgrounds, experiences and generations, and enable people to work more easily and effectively in multifunctional, cross-geographic teams.
Digital and mobile enablement platforms connect employees to what they need when and where they need it, in a personalized and convenient way. Digital engagement tools route workflows and tasks to employees that can track and take accountability of them. They manage and combine interaction and case history with knowledge management tools like articles, resources, learning opportunities and total rewards into one portal. By leveraging digital HR tools, employers can highlight benefits, make flexibility easier and quickly answer questions digitally.
Perhaps most important in the social enterprise is how organizations prepare for, respond to and communicate around moments that matter — moments like getting married, taking on a new role or moving to a new geography. Every worker will likely experience one of these key moments during their tenure, and they have an impact on the relationship that worker has with the organization. Digital workplaces act as a single point of connection to the worker, guiding them through increasingly complex processes and technology, connecting them to business resource groups and internal stakeholders, routing requests to the most important resources and predicting their needs based on broad patterns in the workforce.
Making It Easier To Make A Difference
Digital workplace tools can enable many aspects of the social enterprise, like communicating about the organization’s social responsibility initiatives or suggesting volunteer activities that might appeal to a particular employee. A survey of the workforce can help employers get to crux of what’s on workers’ minds and make informed investments in opportunities that appeal to the workforce and their expectations of the organization.
A key point: Listen first; react second. Don’t assume you know what is important to your people. Be mindful and sensitive to the fact that some employees may not agree with a specific policy or stance. Clearly communicating the organization’s position and offering opportunities for dialogue so that employees feel their points of view are also respected is one of the hallmarks of a social enterprise and increasingly an expectation.
For example, our research revealed a stark contrast between what employees want and what employers deliver in their rewards offerings. How do you expect to attract and engage workers if you don’t offer what’s important to them? And how much money is being wasted offering programs people don’t value? Active listening — not rolling out programs for the sake of it — through polling, surveying and tracking of trends is important in the social enterprise.