people at conference table, one presenting white board with sticky notes

Photo by Jason Goodman

As companies reimagine work, there are powerful forces continually impacting how we craft that new future. The employee voice has risen in power, and for many the workplace will never go totally back to the way it was. We continue to emerge from a global circumstance that brought forced physical and social isolation, suffering and sickness. But it also a reconnected us to where, how, and on what we were spending our lives. The pandemic gave us the silence we needed to listen to the employee voice. Establishing a more equitable balance of time between work and personal, rather than cutting time for life out from swelling work responsibilities has taken the spotlight.

With my background in online communities and in operationalizing employee communities, I identified some powerful organizational levers for navigating these changes and harmonizing the employee voice with organizational objectives. I documented how these best practices helped  Talk Social to Me clients. I helped guide more than 25 companies, through a variety of workforce communication and employee engagement challenges:

Digital Rituals, Culture & the Pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic was a great awakening and a shift but not all outside forces on your company are bad. In this piece about Digital Rituals, Culture and the Pandemic, I explored the ways we watched Covid-19 wrestle our customers’ businesses down to the care. While painful to witness, they pivoted and so did we. “A global pandemic can be a terrible time for organizational change. On the other hand, if your company culture is at risk, maybe a global pandemic is great time to re-birth rituals and culture needed to adapt.” Company culture must include the employee voice. That’s a change from even just a few short years ago.

Engaging the Employee Voice

In these confusing and blended times of in-person, remote and now digitally collaboration-heavy work, the tools you ask your employees to use can make or break communication—which is at the heart of everything. In, Teams vs. Yammer: Choose for When and How You Work, I drill into what kinds of work communication is best for the employee voice vs. employee productivity, and why.

Employee communities are great for building connection. But I haven’t yet met a company’s leaders where the struggle to make time to communicate and connect with their people authentically isn’t seen as a burden. In truth, how to harness the employee voice and deliver the connection needed to engage and inspire is a vision many leaders struggle with. In reality, employees want to see and hear their peers’ and their leaders’ voices. Especially among frontline workers, we also found vast disconnection with who actually leads the company. From leader coaching to communications change, there are many small but powerful actions to take. Learn more in Executive Engagement: The Ticket to Success for Your Employee Community.

Also called ESNs, Enterprise Social Networks can be thriving hubs of employee engagement and mediums for real-time listening and check-ins on the employee voice at any time. What most teams don’t realize is just how much operationalizing has to happen to create them at scale. Over time, that scale has the potential to deliver ROI far beyond the initial use cases. I dive in with 8 Questions to Ask Before Launching Your ESN. This article was one of the most read Talk Social to Me posts!

8 windows on a virtual meeting screen

Image by Charles Deluvio

Find Technology that Fits You

Many companies have a mix of employee types. Depending on the industry, it’s common for many to have knowledge workers, or people who work primarily at a computer. I worked with several companies in energy, construction, real estate, and workforce development where the company’s social network or tools had to cater to mobile workers. Enter:  the cellphone, perhaps the most powerful communication and information tool ever to put information in our hands. These 8 Best Practices for Launching to Frontline Workers continue to stand up to the test of time.

In 5 Rules for Selecting the Right Enterprise Social Network Technology, I share some of the strategies we advised clients to use to incorporate the employee voice and perspective in choosing work tools. At times we were asked to come in and research the employee voice to assess organizational readiness for collaborative solutions. In one case, our recommendation was:  your employees aren’t ready yet. It’s tough news to deliver to a leader hopeful about the possibilities of new technology to enhance productivity, collaboration, and connected communications!