The first part of this post concentrated on finding social intranet pilot teams from existing project teams, communities of practice etc.
New employees are great for introducing new ways of working. When they join the organisation their minds are more or less a blank slate when company culture is concerned. This means that if you manage to create a positive enterprise social experience early on, they will be in a better position to resist peer pressure from older employees who want them to use old, less effective communication channels. At the very least by helping them to experience the usefulness of the network first hand, they will be more open to try the network later on in work context – and potentially driving change within their teams.
But how to harness the potential transformative power of new employees?
The trick is to use the internal social network for the onboarding process. You will obviously need to approach HR with the idea and get their buy-in – otherwise you won’t get very far.
Set up an online community for new hires
You can invite them to the online community even before they’ve officially joined an organisation. Many social intranets and enterprise social networks let you set up an area that external people and internal people can both access (for example on Yammer they are called, surprise surprise, external networks).
In their own external network they can network with each other (often the most enduring relationships are built with people in the same life situation – in this case as new employees), ask questions, complete modules of internal training courses together with other recruits or hold Q&A sessions with representatives from different departments (HR, IT, marketing etc).
Alternatively you can set up a group/workspace within the network after the new hires have already joined the organisation.
You can read more about onboarding and enterprise social networks in Karie Willyerd’s blog post in the Harvard Business Review blog.
“If you want to enable those new hires to make a difference as soon as possible and fit into the culture of the company, go social: give them the kinds of communication tools they are already using outside work.” – Karie Willyerd, co-author of The 2020 Workplace
Using the new social onboarding process as proof of concept
If you work for a larger organisation employee onboarding might also be the easiest way to quickly demonstrate your ESN’s value to your senior executives as it helps new hires to reach peak productivity more quickly. Internal social network platform Tibbr estimate that new employees experience 77% faster access to knowledge when they have access to an enterprise social network. And let’s not underestimate the social aspects: when you don’t know who does what or even what people look like, a social network where you can search people and learn more about them becomes extremely helpful.
In my previous organisation new hires really appreciated the latter aspect of the network. It’s the perfect to find out what that woman you met by the coffee machine actually does in the organisation so you can approach her with relevant questions. And those of us who have a hard time remembering names (and in my case also faces) it’s a godsend.
To make a robust case to your senior executives you might want to survey new employees before adding a social network to your onboarding system, and then survey a later batch of recruits who have gone through the new approach to onboarding and see what the difference is. If onboarding is your pilot project be sure to gather good quotes and stories from new employees – not just stats.
If you are using Yammer, you might want to check out this official Yammer video on onboarding.
If you have any questions drop me a line at virpi(at)businessgoessocial.net or tweet me.