In chapter 12, The Groundswell Inside Your Company, Li and Bernoff discuss how companies engage their employees through internal groundswell. According to the authors, “throughout corporations around the world, employees are connecting on internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges” (Li, Bernoff, 2011, p. 235). Connecting with employees is as important as connecting customers, as discussed in Chapter 7. Allowing employees to make suggestions, pitch ideas, or give feedback can give them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility in the company
Li and Bernoff also discussed about the Blue Shirt Nation in the book. Blue Shirt Nation was created to listen to what employees had to say. It helped employees feel empowered, connected, and more committed on a day-to-day basis. It also helped BestBuy accomplish groundswell’s five objectives from Chapter 4: listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing.
Finally, here are three strategies for nurturing the internal groundswell:
- Promoting a listening culture from top down management – internal social applications demand a high level of trust because employees have more at stake when they participate. Employees need to know that management will listen to their openly contributed opinions, rather than punishing dissenters.
- Ease and encourage participation with incentives – having the right culture in place and an engaged management team is a good start, but it’s not enough. Incentives are like the control rods in a nuclear reactor – they dampen the participation and keep the idea generation from heating up.
- Find and empower the rebels in your organization – Rather than think about the things that can go wrong, think about the opportunity cost, namely the lost opportunity of creating a groundswell of enthusiastic employees. Managers should stem the inherent corporate impulse to put in place processes, controls, and guidelines for everything.
(Li & Bernoff, 2011)
EA employee engagement
Electronic Arts had difficulty with employee collaboration and team development. It had an out-of-date collaboration platform that featured searchable blogs, images, and other information, but it wasn’t widely being used. The company wanted all employees to be able to easily network with one another to increase efficiency and decrease the time development time of a new game. Eventually, EA initiated an internal social network to streamline this process and allow employees to communicate globally. This network is called EA People. It allows employees to write and share personal information, such as technical skills, interests, current work projects, past experience, list of colleagues, career interests, etc. Similar to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, EA People was made to be customizable by its employees. It did not only increase collaboration and innovation, but it also helped with employee “on-boarding” training for new employees (Microsoft Office, n.d.).
When it comes to employee engagement, EA likes to move people around, even if that is on different game development teams. This help give teams a rich variety within the organization. They also recognize employees for their amazing contributions they bring to EA. For instance, their Frostbite team created an engine that enables stunning visuals and entirely new gameplay features that lead the company into the next gen gaming. (Toledano, 2013)
As far as incentive goes, EA focus on rewarding employees with a bonus linked to company, business unit and individual performance. For instance, EA’s spot-recognition programs reward employees who deliver over and above performance on a day-to-day basis.
At the end of the day, it is all about building a stronger culture and relationship with the employees by finding new ways on how to manage the company with a strong and active participation with the management and employees.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.
Microsoft Office. (n.d.). Boosting collaboration with wikis, blogs, My Sites, ratings, and tags. Retrieved from Microsoft Office Support: https://support.office.com/en-au/article/Boosting-collaboration-with-wikis-blogs-My-Sites-ratings-and-tags-99dc30c8-d125-4e35-bc3f-9747537940a8#__toc267881651
Toledano, G. (2013, May 20). A moment to recognize some exemplary employees. Retrieved from EA: http://www.ea.com/news/ea-recognizes-employee-achievements