Thursday, August 29, 2013

Social Media: If you build it, will they come?

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If you build it, they will come.”

It is called the field of dreams approach. When it comes to business, the idea goes something like this: “If we build a great product, store, or website, the customers will come to us.” For some things, it really is that simple. Turns out, however, that social media sites are not one of those things.

For the last five or so years, businesses have spent countless hours and billions of dollars investing in social media programs. In fact, last year alone, organizations spent $4.5 billion building and improving social media related technology. At this point, almost every company has at least one Twitter handle, Facebook page, and a blog site of some type. Customers are well aware that they are out there. The problem, however, is that most of them don’t really care.

According to a paper recently published by Badgeville, 84% of customers never see Facebook brand updates and nearly 70% never log into companies’ web-based communities. Even fewer spend their time with user-generated content tools. So, what does this mean for marketers? It means that the ongoing task of creating valuable, attention-grabbing content that actually gets customers to engage is a very difficult one.

Feeling discouraged? No need.

The challenge of building a magnetic social media community, one that not only attracts users, but also keeps them engaged,  is a conquerable one. It’s all about using intrinsic motivators to influence customer behavior. Making customers feel smart, successful, and socially valued is more powerful than luring them with cash and prizes. Therefore, you should try to incorporate the following engagement tactics into your company’s social media sites. They will not only attract customers to your sites, but they will keep them coming back.

Game mechanics: Gameplay is fun, social, and most of all, addictive. Build social media platforms that incorporate game features. There are two great reasons for this, customers feel smart when they have opportunities to prove their knowledge and competition fuels feelings of success and social achievement.  

Reputation management:  Companies can encourage engagement by giving users a chance to show off their Klout in a community. Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the "Klout Score". In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user's social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content. The more questions a user answers on a forum, for instance, the closer they come to attaining a higher status level. Status and social identity are two influential motivators.  

Social mechanics: Dynamic social experiences encourage user participation. Sharing social experiences is an integral part of everyday. By bringing this to life through social media, companies tap into the user’s need for belongings and social acceptance. The results are powerful.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crowdsourcing Takes Employee Engagement to the Next Level

Employee satisfaction surveys have been the way of the world for as long as many of us can remember. The logic is relatively simple: Collectively, employees know their organizations better than any one person alone. Asking for their opinions and suggestions is easy insight into the depths of corporate culture. What are the issues? Inconsistencies? What is working and what is not? In theory, the data is golden. In actuality, it is not.  


Employee satisfaction surveys are not engaging. Do you remember the last enjoyable survey you took? Probably not. The fact is, they tend to be irrelevant, boring, and bias. Therefore, the results are weak. Making appropriate and effective changes after-the-fact becomes a difficult task for management. 

The question remains: Is there a better method for gathering employee insight? A technique that will encourage employees to come up with action-oriented ideas on their own? That will boost engagement? Fortunately, there is. And it is called crowdsourcing.    

Crowdsourcing, by definition, is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people in an online community. When it comes to measuring employee engagement and satisfaction, this means creating an online platform for ongoing dialogue between employees. A tailored crowdsourcing platform is a real-time, collaborative, and thoughtful way to give employees a voice and a place to share it. 

Here is the short list of why crowdsourcing can be used effectively as an employee engagement tool: 

  1. Workers are more comfortable conversing online - With Gen-Yers taking over the workplace, this becomes more relevant every day. Conversing, sharing, and interacting online is second nature.    
  2. Opportunity for employees to have their voice heard - Like surveying, crowdsourcing platforms are a place for employees to share their opinions, ideas, and suggestions no matter their role or title. The beauty of these online platforms is that they are less restricted - no time frames or multiple-choice questions. 
  3. Less intrusive than typical surveys - Annual surveys can be time consuming and seriously interruptive. Crowdsourcing platforms, however, are convenient and easy for employees to use.
  4. Cost-effective - Organizations often hire outside firms to design, administer, and analyze their employee surveys. In the long run, an online platform can save significant money. 
  5. Quick turnaround - Analyzing the results of employee satisfaction surveys can take weeks, if not longer. Crowdsourcing platforms give employees the opportunity to generate their own action-oriented ideas that can be streamlined quickly. 

As the business world evolves, our tools for understanding it must progress too. Crowdsourcing platforms are the future- they are powerful tools that connect employees to the organization and to one another. They are engaging.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Redesigning Work Creates a Smarter Workforce

Company culture is a hot topic. Organizations of every variety, from the smallest tech startups to the international giants, are spending time, money, and effort revitalizing the look and feel of their workplaces. The reason behind it all: To attract and retain top talent.  

The increasing emphasis on company culture is just one of countless examples of how technology is changing the HR game. Nowadays, job seekers have access to endless information online about companies and their employees. They can get a feel for the dress code and tour the break room fridge without ever having to step foot near the office. Thanks to social media, employees can now see into the lives of their coworkers without leaving their desks.

Technology has busted down office walls and changed our understanding of the places we work and the people we work with.

As technology makes the world of work increasingly transparent, HR personnel will continue to face new challenges and opportunities. Here is a look at four major workplace shifts brought on by technology and how employers are capitalizing on the insight this new data offers. 

4 Shifts Changing the Nature of Work
  1. The rise of social business in the workplace - Social tools allow us to connect with one another quicker than ever before. Employers who have embraced these tools have seen productivity skyrocket. These platforms also generate massive amounts of data. Data that uncovers details about employee behaviors, morale, and performance and can be used to enhance engagement and employee satisfaction.
  2. The rise of big data analytics - Data is changing the way companies recruit and retain employees. Determining how to attract potential candidates was once a guessing game. Now, employers use data generated from online job sourcing sites to actively gather, organize, and analyze the behavior of job seekers. With this type of insight, HR professionals can tweak how they design their job descriptions and how they manage their workplace cultures to develop and retain employees. 
  3. The rise of mobile technology - With information available at your fingertips, decisions are made on-the-go. Connectivity makes collaboration easier and faster. Time and location no longer dictate interactions. Traditional schedules and strict vacation breaks are becoming a thing of the past. 
  4. The rise of the independent worker - Technology has made the expansion of personal networks virtually limitless. People everywhere are connecting with one another, pursing the work they want to do with the people they want to do it with. Employers, too, are networking. By building their own webs of talent, they can fill positions more efficiently and regularly bring in new talent with fresh ideas.    
If we can harness the power of big data and combine it with human insight, we have the potential to bring people and their employers closer together. We can match people with the places who need them. Fill gaps with the right set of skills. The result is an empowered, thriving, and productive workforce. What is better for people is better for business. Ultimately, it’s a win-win.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Using the Power of Destiny to Motivate Hourly Employees

Credit card companies have long used reward point systems to encourage customers to spend more. You have probably heard it before: “Spend $1000, Earn 1,000 Points” or “Earn Double Rewards on Gas and Groceries.” Details aside, the logic is simple: The more you spend, the more you earn. Earning feels good, so spending hurts less.  

Positive reinforcement is the key. Reward a good behavior and it is more likely to occur again. It has worked for credit card companies, and, fact is, it can work for employers too. 

Reward points programs in the workplace can be powerful. Racking up points gives hourly employees incentive to go above and beyond, to work a little harder to complete tasks and take on additional responsibilities. 

As it turns out, these programs are especially lucrative when employees have the option to choose their rewards. According to Anat Lechner, a clinical associate professor of management and organizations at NYU’s Stern School of Business, allowing employees to choose the awards to pursue translates to giving them power of their own destiny. Of course, you can’t offer everything. But allowing employees to choose even from a small list of awards makes the experience more personal. Like credit card customers, employees are more motivated to earn points when the ultimate goal is their own. 

Giving employees the power to pursue their own choice of dreams has another major benefit: Reduced turnover rates. Once employees are on the road to winning an award, they are less likely to leave the company for another job. 

When designed right, gamified reward programs are simple and effective ways to reinforce best practice behaviors and training. It may seem paradoxical, but making the work feel a little more like play can boost employee productivity, motivation, and long-term commitment. 
We’d love to hear from you—have you experimented with “build your own rewards” programs? 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How Employee Engagement Drives Growth

If there is one thing we can count on in business it’s that numbers speak louder than words. If you can’t measure results, you can’t manage them. And what you can’t manage, you can’t improve.  

At Inward, we understand the how employee engagement helps companies grow and succeed. A recent Gallup study gives us the numbers to confirm it, once again.

Gallup’s 2012 Meta-Analysis Research Study
For the eighth edition of the Meta-Analysis Research Study, Gallup compiled data from close to 50,000 work units across 192 organizations in 49 industries and 34 countries. In total, researchers gathered insight from nearly 1.4 million employees. 

Their findings: There is an undeniable connection between employee engagement and performance. For all of the nine performance factors below, engaged work units out-performed bottom-quartile units by significant margins. 

Engaged vs. Disengaged Engaged Work Units  

  • Customer Ratings - 10% higher
  • Profitability - 21% greater
  • Productivity - 22% greater
  • Turnover - 25% reduction for high-turnover, 60% reduction for low-turnover organizations.
  • Safety Incidents - 48% fewer
  • Shrinkage (theft) - 28% reduction
  • Absenteeism - 37% reduction
  • Patient Safety Incidents - 41% fewer
  • Quality Defects - 41% fewer

So what does improved performance mean for growth?

The study found that companies with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every disengaged employee saw 147% higher EPS than their competition. On the flip side, companies with just 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 2% lower EPS than their competitors. 

The bottom line: Employee alignment pays off. Big time.