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Published 20 November 2012 06:13, Updated 21 November 2012 05:31
Business social networks launched without the full backing of the leadership team frequently struggle to gain traction. Senior leaders need to provide the necessary funding and act as champions. Photo: Brendan Smialowski
A report earlier this year by McKinsey & Co offered the tantalising possibility of improving the productivity of employees it described as “interaction” or “high-skill knowledge” workers, including managers, by between 20 and 25 per cent by improving communication and collaboration through social technologies. The paper, The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies, argues that although 72 per cent of companies use social technologies in some way, for most the potential benefits remain “largely untapped”.
“The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 per cent of the workweek managing email and nearly 20 per cent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks,” McKinsey explains.
“But when companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much 35 per cent, the time employees spend searching for company information. Additional value can be realised through faster, more efficient, more effective collaboration both within and between enterprises.”
However, reaping the benefits of social technologies requires organisations to make some effort, including substantial organisational and cultural changes. They must, according to McKinsey, “transform their structures, processes and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust”.
No wonder, then, that Sydney employee engagement researcher David Croston believes that organisations are struggling to make the most of enterprise social networks.
Croston, principal of Inside Communication, says many companies, while recognising that they should embrace social networks for their organisations, typically launch platforms without a clear purpose or strategy, resulting in “little or no business value”.
Croston offers these rules to ensure that your organisation makes the most of social technologies.
“Australia desperately needs to lift stalled productivity rates and accusing fingers are often pointed at the government for failing to provide the necessary settings,” Croston says. “It is a pity business leaders appear to be overlooking this opportunity to add rocket fuel to the performance and productivity of their organisation.”