Recently I was at an IdeasUK networking event about the use of social media in staff ideas schemes. A big part of the day was about what HSBC are doing.
HSBC have developed a platform for the capture and management of staff ideas which builds upon social media ideas. If you’ve seen how things like Dell IdeaStorm works you’ll get it straight away. Like lots of social media, the HSBC platform is very open and easy to use system which encourages people to participate. People in the community can see what others have posted recently and the top / most popular ideas. You can also search though past ideas to check out if what you are thinking has been done before, or just look for inspiration. People can express an opinion by voting on suggestions and collaborate through the process of commenting. For very good reasons to do with security and financial services regulation the access to the platform is restricted to staff use only.
Have a look at the presentation by James Shewry on the IdeasUK blog for a good explanation of how it works.
A couple of things made me think about how this approach helps with staff engagement. These are to do with trust and giving people confidence to participate.
The fact that staff are able to vote on suggestions and freely comment, for me, is a huge expression of trust. Staff are trusted to have an opinion, and express it in a sensible and useful way. If you feel you are trusted to freely express your views, that’s got to be good for engagement. Unfortunately not all organisations would take this approach, and others would introduce moderation processes and ‘checks and balances’ to ensure nothing ‘unsavory’ (criticism of management) appeared.
Giving people the confidence to participate is a tricky one. I recently heard the expression ‘micro participation’ to describe the like / promote / demote button approach. Letting people take these ‘micro’ steps is a good way of building confidence and introducing people to the ‘two-way conversation’ world of social media. Again, there are unfortunately a few organisations about that would be horrified at the thought of this type of ‘push button democracy’ in the hands of staff.
Here is a slide from the HSBC presentation to illustrate what I’m saying:
There were 183 ideas submitted in March 2011 which received almost 2400 votes and 495 comments. That seems like a pretty good number of staff being engaged in ideas to improve the organisation. Anyone who’s ever written a blog will know that comments are like gold dust, they give so much added value. Getting 495 comments on 183 ideas is very impressive and helpful.
So what’s the PONT?
- Trusting staff and improving engagement go hand in hand.
- Using social media approaches to handle staff ideas gives an opportunity to build trust amoungst staff.
- It’s a win, win, win. Engaging this many staff in business improvement has got to be good for customers, good for staff and good for the bottom line.