14 Replies Latest reply: Sep 29, 2011 9:10 AM by Kim England RSS

    Allow social interest groups or not?

    Gia Lyons

      This is inspired by this short exchange.

       

      If you're looking for research that supports the value of social interest groups, here's what Corey Mathews recently shared with me:

      Happy employees are going to stick around. Allowing employees to make friends and find people with similar interests makes them happy. Both of these metrics can be measured and trended over time [via employee engagement measures]. An added bonus, as shown by Gallup articles like the one you mentioned and http://gmj.gallup.com/content/787/Collective-Advantage.aspx, is that happy employees with friends at work are more engaged and efficient:

      When Q12 was administered to a random sample of U.S. workers 18 and older in late 2000 and early 2001, 51% of participants who strongly agreed with the statement "I have a best friend at work" were engaged, compared with only 10% of those who disagreed or strongly disagreed. Best friendship also translated into profit-enhancing behavior. For example, 75% of participants who had a best friend at work planned to be with the company for at least another year, vs. 51% who didn't have a best friend. In general, employees with best friends were more satisfied with their pay and benefits than those without, would recommend the company as a great place to work, and felt they were working to their full potential.

       

      Smart companies should be using their communities to facilitate friendships and connections, and social groups provide that functionality as a value add without detracting from the "official" business objectives.

       

      Why does your company allow or not allow social interest groups to form online?

       

      (JJSchultz , I know this topic will interest you.)

        • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
          Debbie Sacks

          Hi Gia:
          This is a great data point:

           

          51% of participants who strongly agreed with the statement "I have a best friend at work" were engaged, compared with only 10% of those who disagreed or strongly disagreed. Best friendship also translated into profit-enhancing behavior.

           

          We have used Gallup for our employee engagement survey in the past and the question about having a best friend at work has always been a hot topic among our employees. They consistently wondered why this question was asked. But, your data point above is very telling as to why...and also a great research point for us to use in our future presentations!

           

          To answer your question, yes, we have decided to allow social groups in our Jive instance, however it was (and still is to some degree) a long process for us to get there. We're working closely with our executive team to help them understand (and embrace) this important point about friendships and connections and how it directly translates to improved employee engagement and a more productive staff.

           

          Any other data points you can share would be great!

           

          Debbie

          • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
            Armand Oosthuizen

            This is such useful info Gia. Like many organisations out there, we are also trying to improve employee connectedness / engagement (break down entropy as Barret Value Surveys indicate). People like people like themselves – if they don’t find any, they will move on...

             

            Armand

            • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
              Donna Garber

              Gia,

              This is an exchange I had with a colleague at work today.

              ***********************************************************************

              One thing though - I don’t understand what advantage a discussion in Jive has over the discussion forums we have in SharePoint.

              1. P.S.  Here is an example of feedback I just received this morning:

               

              OK, I went out to Jive.  What a nightmare…….

              This is the worst idea anyone has ever had.  I will not move any of my docs there.  If they need to go there at some time, then I will post on Sharepoint and someone else can move them there.

              This is a site for recent college grads that have nothing better to do than chat, waste company resources, and waste everyone’s time trying to find things.

               


              The part about wasting time and the company’s resources is what I have been told many times since the Loop was first introduced – “why do we have people employed  who have time to chat amongst themselves…a social network for work?  Are you kidding me?  Why would the company encourage ‘Facebook like’ activity at work?”…  

              *****************************************************************************************

              Where do I begin to respond to that?? 

                • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                  Ted Hopton

                  Seriously, are you all automatons at your company? What a horrible place to work if no one chats with colleagues in hallways, around the coffee machine or in their team work places. All day long and not a word about life outside of work... it must be hard to retain people.

                   

                  That's the answer I'd give. "Chatting" is already happening in any healthy organization of happy human beings. If some of it takes place online instead of in person, that means the opportunities to build relationships (which anyone with any sense knows are essential to getting real work done) is extended widely rather than limited by one's physical location or reporting structure.

                  • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                    Kevin Crossman

                    Hard to respond without know what your Jive site looks like and how it is positioned within your company.

                     

                    In general, I find the Discussion features in Jive to be more feature-rich than SharePoint.  But that may be a tomato/tomahto thing.

                     

                    As for the social features / wasting time, that's a different nut to crack. You could explain that people are ALREADY being social at work (ever hear of the watercooler or happy hour? Or email or IM/chat?). The tool provides context for others to discover and participate in those discussions even if they are across the campus or across the world. The thing that Jive would tell you is that they are applying "social / consumer" functionality and applying it to a business tool. Follow your boss. Follow your direct reports. See automatically what they're saying or documenting.

                     

                    Those conversations are no longer siloed in email. Or by the people talking at the watercooler.

                    • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                      Lindsay May

                      I'm not Gia, but thought i'd chime in . Was this in reference to a social interest group or a work-related group?

                       

                      We do have a few social interest groups, but I don't believe its a time-waste. I agree that connecting with other like-minded emploeyes boosts morale and improves connectnedness and engagement.  We also find that the more time people spend in our instance, the more they love it and have "light bulb" moments and figure out how to use the site in really creative ways. We definately got some resistance at first, but i'm not sure how long your instance has been around.

                       

                      We just celebrated our one year anniversary of our official launch, and in the beginning we found that a lot of social interest groups were created, but quickly "abandoned" as they began to learn how they could leverage our Jive instance for work productivity. We really haven't seen much "time waste" in groups, and we are in a retail environment, with lots of high school and college age workers.

                       

                      We've found that groups have actually saved a ton of time for people who are using them effectively... like reducing training times by 4 hours and allowing more flexability for team members to learn on their own, as formerly they would have to set up a WebEx to do demonstrations or meet in person. Not sure if this helps you or not.

                      • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                        mdcrocker

                        Hi,

                         

                        What they are missing is that collaboration, sharing and providing a way to contribute and improve on ideas is the true value.  The hidden message is about reluctance to change and learning something new.  It also appears that they are thinking of it as an OR.  Put a document into SharePoint OR into Jive.  The community has to be (not just seen to be) integrated into the daily work flow.  It is not able features and functions, it is about getting work done.

                         

                         

                         

                        For example, reduce email and retain knowledge by publishing in the community.  The conversation is visible to everyone, even if they joined today.  People can revisit assumptions an decisions to see if they are still correct. 

                         

                         

                         

                        As with any change, the educations and guidance to move people along the path is important.  Find success stories where groups used a community as a place to solve a business problem.

                         

                         

                         

                        It is important to also remind folks that to attract and retain the best and brightest  Millennials requires a more dynamic collaboration tool.

                         

                         

                         

                        Mike

                          • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                            Debbie Sacks

                            We went through this same business vs. social discussion earlier this year when writing our Jive guidelines. We spoke to many organizations about their use of Jive for social conversations and also consulted with Jive. We received the e-mail below from Carrie Gilbert, who works at Jive. We have used her language in a lot of our discussions and I think it clearly demonstrates how social use of the software translates to business conversations and a successful community:

                             

                            "Short answer to "how many customers use it socially?" is "All of them!" We always recommend that every internal community feature an off-topic area (often called "the water cooler" or "break room" or a similar metaphor that works within the organization), if for no other reason than to give those conversations a home. Anecdotally speaking, if you don't have that area, the entire site risks becoming off-topic. At the end of the day, employees are, of course, social creatures, and want to engage in non-work-related dialog with their peers. (If they didn't, then the water cooler metaphor wouldn't resonate in so many cultures.) So recognizing these discussions will likely occur regardless of them being officially sanctioned, the less likely they are to disrupt more business-centric conversations.

                             

                            Beyond that, you WANT your employees to use this as a social platform, again because that's how humans want to interact with their peers. If you aren't getting any off-topic banter happening, you are probably not getting much on-topic banter either. In order for the true business value of a platform like this to be realized, people need to feel comfortable using it as a communication tool. Imagine how the productivity of traditional meetings might be affected if you were forbidden from engaging in small talk as everyone was settling in or at the coffee station on your way back to your desk. The more you like and respect your coworkers, the greater your sense of obligation to help them (and your company) succeed, and a lot of these bonds are formed as a result of seemingly simple social interactions.

                             

                            This doesn't mean you need to have umpteen social groups accommodating every walk of life available as part of your launch, but you do need to account for these types of interactions in some fashion. It can also be a great way for shyer employees to "test the waters"—maybe I'm a little intimidated by this whole social business thing and am not quite ready to give up email for a particular project, but I can get a feel for the environment by chiming in on someone's question about where to host their daughter's birthday party. (And over time, as certain trends become clear and/or as the leadership becomes more comfortable with this whole thing, you can create [or encourage individual employees to create] more groups to support various interests.)" --Carrie Gilbert

                          • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                            Sarah Mahoney

                            Think about this like politicians do. A politician's goal is to get the people in their party to vote for them which is usually a pretty easy task once they receive the party's nomination. Liberal democrats know that they are not going to win the votes of right-wing-NRA-bible-belters-tea-partiers so they do not invest a lot of resources on that population and vice versa. What they do focus on is the movable middle. Identify your party, then identify the movable middle. Make sure you nurture your party and invest your effort in persuading the movable middle.

                             

                            It takes time, but you will eventually have (if you don't already) stories you can tell about how your employees used the network to enhance their work. Once you get a story of someone that your employees respect (it doesn't have to be an executive), your site will no longer be viewed as another social channel. Jive is great because it gives employees more "meat" than purely social tools like yammer and chatter do. They can use the project management features, calenders, forums, etc. Maybe play up the value of these tools and move away from talking about the social features like microblogging status updates and group walls.

                             

                            We have the challenge of distinguishing the use cases of sharepoint and our network. The messaging that we stick to is that sharepoint is a document repository giving users the ability to have highly customized document privacy settings. Our social intranet is the place for real-time collaboration and spontaneous interaction designed to accelerate your access to resources and identify new connections across a large institution.

                          • Allow social interest groups or not?
                            Tracy Maurer

                            Social dialog can be really helpful also in terms of people sharing information about resources in an area. For example, we've had a couple of office moves in the last year. In preparation for those moves, we had the groups who were moving start a group in Jive specific to the move. They posted lists of local restaurants (sometimes along with their personal feedback regarding them), where the local hospital was located, mass transit information (one office was in SanFran, one in New Jersey), local weather. This is helpful for people who are trying to work out the routine for working at the new office, but also for people who will be visiting the office. Now they can have a one stop shop to help plan their trip.

                             

                            Other ways this same thing is used in other offices:

                            • Have a charity event going on in the office, post it there! Get people to volunteer time/effort.
                            • Post a sign-up sheet for the upcoming potluck
                            • Have a spot for people to report office problems like burned out lights, leaky toilet, out of coffee, etc.
                            • List upcoming maintenance on the parking garage or building
                            • Post details about your holiday party

                             

                            It becomes the office bulletin board that people can access from anywhere. Which is great for telecommuters, people who visit the office, part-time workers, etc.

                            • Allow social interest groups or not?
                              Donna Garber

                              Thanks guys!  I agree with all of you.  I think I just wanted to share a little of what I encounter sometimes.  Overall, our adoption rate has been very good and more and more people want to know how Jive can help them do their jobs.  Every once in a while, I encounter an individual or a group that just doesn't see the value.... yet.  They will in time.

                              • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                                Kevin Crossman

                                We also make sure to say that the Groups are for "business appropriate" social interests. Which seems to give people an understanding that in Jerry Seinfeld's words things should be kept "sophisticated". Also, we don't allow anonymous activity, so when your name is attached...

                                • Re: Allow social interest groups or not?
                                  Kim England

                                  We started our community with a "water cooler" type area called "Always Sharing" in the beginning this was really popular, however because we have an open policy on groups (everyone in our community can create as many or any type of group) special interest groups flourished in the first few months of Beta testing and Always Sharing is less popular

                                   

                                  The social groups soon became less popular as our early adopters created their own "working" groups. When we hard launched the social groups grew, in size number and interest again. New users test out the tool in the social groups (no fear of alienation or getting it wrong in front of peers) they then like the early adopters migrate to "work" groups and keep one eye on special interest groups they feel passionately about or administrate. Now I think we have a healthy balance, the social groups are still active and visible but people login to work foremost and socialise as an added extra.

                                   

                                  Our social groups serve a number of purposes,

                                   

                                  • Induct new users and help build capability to use the tool
                                  • Help break down silos, you don't have to be in the same team, country or level in the organisation to enjoy the same movie or share food recipes
                                  • Engage our colleagues and make them feel valued - we trust them to manage their time
                                  • A great way for new acquisitions and new employees to "get" our culture and "get stuck in" to meeting and sharing with new colleagues "like" them

                                   

                                  I love our social groups it reminds me what a diverse and interesting bunch of people I am lucky enough to work with.