Businesses are built from people – their ideas, their engagement, their labour, their passion. But sometimes actually working in a business can feel like it’s been stripped of everything that made someone start it. Social collaboration can help bring the “people” back into the business by encouraging sharing of ideas, knowledge, and passion.
People are social creatures so we want to spend time with others. This still holds true in the workplace. Employees with friends at work are more engaged, happier, more invested in an organization, and less likely to leave it for a competing job offer. Now sometimes people are friends before they become co-workers, but you can also encourage co-workers to become friends by encouraging policies of social collaboration.
If this isn’t something your organization has considered or it’s the first tenet of your business philosophy, you might be surprised what social collaboration can do for a company. Read on to learn some of the benefits of social collaboration.
The 7 Surprising Benefits of Social Collaboration
1. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Social collaboration strengthens teams. You could have probably guessed that one, but the implications go further than employees that work in harmony. It reduces employee stress because each project or idea is a product of the team so there’s less fear of failure. The second way is that it ups the skills of everyone involved. When an employee shows another employee a better way to do something, both employees learn from the interaction. Sometimes the best way to set skills in concrete is to show someone else.
2. Employees know the “why” to what they do.
We talk about this again and again on this blog, but it really goes to the heart of a functional, profitable organization – employees that know the “why” behind what they’re doing will be more motivated, engaged, better brand ambassadors and all around more valuable assets to the company. When employees collaborate with each other, especially outside of their respective departments or teams, they get a bigger picture idea of what the organization does as a whole. They can see how what they do affects marketing, or finance, or sales. They really begin to understand the “why” of the organization – what drives it forward and they learn why they should care.
3. A better outcome for projects and products.
When employees collaborate, they get feedback – feedback that can lead to tweaks, changes, and edits to produce a product that would be stronger than without the feedback. Each employee brings his or her own strengths and viewpoints to a project and a group can offer surprising viewpoints that one person alone might not have considered.
4. Reduce knowledge loss.
It’s important for those in the C-suite level to recognize that even trusted star employees will leave an organization eventually (for a myriad of reasons, not all that can be prevented). But what doesn’t have to happen is the knowledge loss that goes along with an employee with a lot of responsibility leaving. The benefits of social collaboration can mean that knowledge is shared from employee to employee and team to team. Employees that are closely in touch with each other will more easily close the gap left behind from someone who leaves.
5. It shows your employees that you trust them.
It takes a measure of responsibility for a front-facing employee to interact with customers and have the leeway needed to make the customers happy. Employing that internally with an open policy for dialogue between employees exercising their discretion for what should be shared and when signals to your employees that the higher-ups trust their judgment and trust them to make the right choices.
6. Turn co-workers into friends.
There are so many think pieces about employing millennials and encouraging millennials and inspiring millennials, but the truth of it is that millennials are putting more value into the experiences they derive from their jobs than past generations. To sum it up – that means that your company culture can either be vinegar that keeps you from attracting star talent or it can be the honey that attracts it. Social collaboration improves company culture. Employees that know each other, get along and become friends are proven to be happier. In fact, studies show that employees that are friends with their co-workers can be up to 50% happier and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to fully engage with work.
7. Foster productivity and loyalty.
Just like how employees with friends at work are 50% more satisfied with their jobs, they’re also more productive, more likely to receive promotions, and tend to have stronger feelings of loyalty toward the organization they work for. A national study found that employees with friends at work are twice as likely to trust company leadership.
Now that you’re convinced about the benefits of social collaboration, here are a few tips to get your organization headed in the right direction:
- Leverage technology. Social collab tools like emplo make it easy for your employees to stay in touch with each other, even when they haven’t stepped away from their desks.
- Create or improve a common area. Whether it’s adding chairs to a patio where co-workers can congregate on their breaks or bigger tables in the lunchroom, creating places that encourage employees to interact face to face is a good step.
- Get everyone involved (starting with the CEO). It starts from the top down. When employees see others interacting with C-suite executives on a more personal level, the trend will spread.
- Find your tastemakers. Look at your employees and honestly access which employees are more willing to readily adopt new technology and new approaches and which other employees look up to. Consider asking them to be an ambassador that promotes the new company approach and uses it themselves as an example to other co-workers.
Do you have any tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments!