So let’s say you’re convinced about the need for and relevance of deploying an enterprise social network within your company. Fantastic! That said, the need to mobilize other stakeholders to get the green light, a budget, a project leader and team, a schedule, etc. is already emerging. You’ll have to find the words (and above all the arguments) to get the CIO, Sales and Management all on board.
That’s why we’ve formalized 7 key arguments to help you convince them:
Argument #1: An ESN will strengthen employees’ sense of belonging
The sense of belonging is tribal in essence: it reflects the fact that one feels that one belongs to a group (often with a certain pride). It’s a sense of belonging to a group (often with a certain pride)—particularly through the knowledge one has of that group: its identity, members, culture, values and codes.
Clearly, the internal social network will help build and encourage this sense of belonging in several ways:
- It connects and federates all employees.
- Its white label carries the colors of the company (logo, mission).
- It gives a voice to each employee.
- It represents each collaborator in a very personalized way, with a name, a photo, and a profile sheet that can be displayed in one click.
- The publications / contributions / comments, which follow on from each other on the news feed throughout the day, help colleagues bond together.
- Regardless of the team to which it belongs or its geographic location, the enterprise social network (ESN) breaks down organizational and geographic silos and thus reinforces the feeling of belonging to one and the same community.
This feeling of belonging will then contribute to giving employees the motivation and desire to surpass themselves for the group. Proof: in its prospective study “Global Talent Trends 2019,” Mercer clearly ranks the feeling of belonging among the main levers of employee motivation.
In their book “No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work” published in January 2019, Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy illustrate this perfectly:
Credits: Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy
In other words: the feeling of belonging is what brings collaborators to “play collective” and encourage them to surpass themselves as individuals; otherwise they will turn instead … to themselves … for themselves. To the detriment of the company, necessarily.
Argument #2: An ESN will improve and modernize internal communication
According to the 2019 study of the Gatehouse agency, 54% of all internal communication professionals think “technology is the biggest hurdle toward internal communication.”
Indeed, in companies that don’t yet rely on an ESN, the three most used tools for internal communication are still the monthly newsletter, the intranet and the bulletin board. These tools are almost 20 years old and are no longer really adapted to the uses or expectations of employees (nor those of management!), who have evolved since then.
Thus, having an internal social network—certainly more modern and more efficient than these three tools—will take your internal communication to the next level.
In particular, it will allow you to:
- promote multi-directional communication (top-down, bottom-up or transversal)
- segment shared information to communicate in a more relevant and personalized way
- initiate new interactions (via publications, comments, animated GIFs and emojis) and make each employee an actor—in turn sender and/or receiver—of internal communication
- bring up contributions/ideas/suggestions from the operational level
- share all types of media (images, links, video, etc.)
- know who has read each shared message and be able to catch up accordingly
The technology used in the ESN goes far beyond simply broadcasting internal communication messages. It enables better interaction among employees and evaluation of its effects and thus better management.
Also read: Intranet, Email and the Collaborative Platform by Talkspirit’s co-founder and CEO Philippe Pinault
Argument #3: An ESN will make employees more autonomous and more involved
By making the organizational flow of information more fluid, ESNs will gradually develop a broader vision and better understanding of the company’s current affairs among employees.
Employees will thus have a better understanding of the strategic challenges facing the entire entity, making it easier for them to propose initiatives and make decisions.
With tasks and efforts that make more sense, employees will encourage themselves to make more generous efforts for the company.
Illustration: Jesus Gallego@
Beyond titles and functions, the ESN unleashes forces and reveals new influencers in the company. The new influencer is the one who will bring added value in the production of content or in the sharing of expertise on a subject, for example. This new influencer will not necessarily be a manager, but certainly someone who seeks to share relevant elements, initiatives and make suggestions!
Allowing everyone (even those at the bottom of the hierarchy) to take part in the “debate,” an ESN will pull all employees upwards, in a logic of contribution for the betterment of the entire company.
Argument #4: An ESN will boost your company’s collaboration and productivity
In its Predictions for 2019, Deloitte chose second place for the prediction that organizations will rethink work and simplify collaboration through technology, with a direct effect on productivity.
Of course, without naming them, he was speaking of enterprise social networks. Indeed, they gather the most expected features by employees today: instant messaging, online collaboration and social networking (see below).
Conversely, as with internal communication (see Argument #3), traditional approaches (face-to-face meetings, phone calls and even sending instant messages) are no longer popular. The same explanation applies: outdated and too far removed from the actual uses and expectations of all the company’s stakeholders.
On the other hand, the favored communication channels are those that allow you to work with more flexibility and agility, even remotely, and this is no coincidence.
At the same time, the main analysts have observed a very sharp increase in the practice of teleworking in France* in recent years, following the example of the United States. The big winners are not just the employees but also companies, and for many reasons:
- better efficiency of employees in the performance of tasks
- more flexibility in the management of the balance between professional and personal lives
- saving commuting time between home and work
- fewer trips and hence a smaller carbon footprint
- reduction of physical space required in offices
So of course, this change in working methods certainly also implies changing management methods in companies.
Argument #5: An ESN will enable better knowledge sharing
Sharing knowledge in an open collaborative manner is also a key element in redefining the work environment.
Based on a “pull” mode of communication (and not “push” as in email), the ESN involves sharing information and making it available to network members. It appears in the news feeds of collaborators already involved in this subject, and everyone can consult it if and when they desire. This is just the opposite of overcommunication.
Thus, over time, the ESN will gradually build up a very rich knowledge base that everyone can consult at any time, according to their needs, via a search engine.
As an extension of the sharing of information content, the idea of sharing knowledge and “skills” within the company was quickly followed; the transmission (of knowledge, procedures, experiences) becoming a key issue.
Through an ESN, each collaborator can share feedback and points of view that can then be useful to colleagues in the form of text / documents / video publications, comments posted on existing publications or even timecoded in webinars (already an option with the “livestream” feature of some ESNs such as that of Talkspirit).
Argument #6: An ESN will stimulate collective intelligence
Following through with the previous argument, you need to understand that through an ESN, the entire culture of innovation within the company will be enriched. Indeed, by enabling employees to create communities and share their know-how and discoveries in a network, these internal networks accelerate the transition from vertical communication to a horizontal model based on autonomy and trust.
In this model, the ESN acts as a catalyst for collective intelligence, facilitating information and knowledge sharing that facilitates co-creation and allows for true collective emulation. In this type of a model, each collaborator can become a potential intrapreneur and the organization becomes a truly collaborative structure.
This is what Antoine Hébert (from Lyon-based communication agency Novius) said in 2014 in La Tribune: “25% of innovations come from R&D. The rest comes from interaction between employees.”
At the heart of this change in use lies the social function of the enterprise social network, because it’s through publishing, commenting, exchanging ideas and discussing that “collective intelligence” finally emerges. This confirms what the latest Mercer Global Talent Trends study shows—that in 2019, the most successful employees are twice as likely to describe their role as “relationship-focused” and their work environment as “collaborative.”
- having begun deemphasizing (or even erasing) the organization’s concept of verticality in favor of an operation favoring lateral or bottom-up communication, a freer flow of ideas, and decompartmentalization.
- having begun developing a model of “cross-functional management:” The manager is not only giving orders to employees anymore. He now holds a new mentor role and is responsible for helping, empowering and encouraging employees.
To sum up: a participative management style is obviously more conducive to collective intelligence!
Argument #7: The ESN is an opportunity to optimize the employee experience and modernize the company
In its 2019 Talent Trends study that outlines human resources departments’ four key issues of the year, the Mercer consulting firm mentions optimization of the employee experience. Indeed, more than ever, employees (especially the best) want to:
- ensure that their achievements gain visibility
- participate in a more pleasant work environment
- have modern digital tools such as leave management, a collaboration platform and communication tools at their disposal, and which are just as pleasant and efficient as those they use in their personal life
- increase participation in decision making
- feel in tune with the direction and values set out by the company
Now more than ever, the employee experience is one of the main concerns of human resources and internal communication managers. Indeed, it has a huge impact on employee motivation, team cohesion, daily commitment, sense of belonging and the desire to stay in your company.
It’s therefore up to the company to live with the times and modernize its tools (“tell me what your tools are, and I’ll know how you work”) and transform its working methods to make them more agile and more employee-centered.
According to Bersin-Deloitte’s predictions, treating employees as customers (i.e. offering them services, providing them with modern tools and interfaces, and seeking to satisfy them) will become a key strategy for HR departments from 2019 onwards.
Also read: Top 12 Enterprise Social Networks
Modernization is the key notion reflected in each of the above arguments. It imperatively involves tools—notably the enterprise social network—to guide the company.
The sense of belonging, internal communication, employee commitment, team productivity, skill sharing, collective intelligence, employee experience are all important keywords for HR and management. They’re prerequisites for any company hoping to survive the changes of the modern world and remain competitive. One thing remains certain: within a generation, companies that haven’t transformed in these ways will have disappeared.