Not a conference call or meeting goes by where I am not connected to my laptop, tablet or mobile device. It’s my direct line to the world and, especially, the happenings of the workplace. This desire—a need if you will—to feel plugged in is a powerful one, although I understand more than anyone how technology can kill work productivity and especially employee engagement if done incorrectly.

Technology like email is a productivity and engagement killer if we rely on it solely to interact and engage with our employees and teammates. Simply hitting send from your email is no longer an acceptable way to talk or relate to your team. There are better ways to engage your peers, team members, or work community.

The quick and silent email send keeps you productive, but it limits your interaction with recipients and provides opportunity for them to read in between the lines (which can make for more work in the long run). Engagement is a two-way conversation where two or more parties interact. Technologies like email, conference calls, and recorded videos serve as a one-way channel, making it hard to relate, develop relationships, and engage.

Technologies like instant messaging and video chats take the traditional conference call and email up a notch. Through these means, we develop a flow of conversation and learn about collaborating and working together as a team. Business leaders, managers and team captains need to find a way to interact, engage, and motivate their employee populations in order to succeed.

Ask For Input

Ask for input—not from your senior leadership but from the group or community of employees you seek to engage. Involving them in the development and decision-making process as you implement new technologies creates instant engagement, as long as you take their ideas and suggestions to heart in developing your engagement strategy.

Use Multiple Channels

An employee’s technology or communication channel of choice is unique to the individual employee. By using multiple channels you ensure that you reach a broader audience while reinforcing the message. Keep in mind that your individual engagement level by channel and success will ebb and flow.

Maybe your internal social network engagement level is off the charts while your instant messaging and/or Facebook group is lacking. Think about your long-term goals and ask your audience for ways to facilitate conversations and engagement on any channel that isn’t meeting expectations for your team.

Set a Target for Success

Before I begin suggesting that you measure your engagement levels given your technology and communication tool of choice, it’s most important that you develop an ideal goal and engagement level to plan your strategy.

A target gives you a goal to shoot for and provides you, as well as your team, a way to measure baselines and expectations and understand lulls you might eventually experience.

Create an Unifying and Consistent Message

Recently, I launched a podcast to help suit the needs of my audience members, based on their feedback that finding time to read blogs and other written information was challenging.

My podcasts helps unify and create a consistent message by taking advantage of audio to reach my HR and recruiting community. While podcasts are not new, audio technology is way for readers to engage and absorb blog content and resources in a different way.

Measure for Success and Failure

Once targets and goals have been set, it is important to measure your progress along the way. I suggest going beyond the standard employee engagement survey and tying increased engagement and communication among teammates directly to metrics like revenue, decreased wait times, or hold times. Measuring the impact of engagement is often elusive. The key is to really understand not just how your employees feel, but also how the work environment and improved communication is improving, thus impacting the larger business mission of your company.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is an author, speaker , HR professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the President/CEO of Xceptional HR and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

27 October 2014

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