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Give Them Something Good To Talk About!

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Right now, a lot of employers aren’t thinking enough about how to truly engage their employees because they have the benefits of the dullest economic recovery working in their favor. Having most employees “thankful to have a job” doesn’t mean they are putting their passion to work for you. And if you think they are sitting quietly being ever o thankful you are deluding yourself. The water cooler has morphed into the smart phone and they are communicating with each other in ways that belie their facial expressions.

And all this “new” social networking isn’t new at all. Only the technology is new and it gives employers the opportunity to see the truth in a manner that was never available before — that is, if we care to know it.

A few short years ago while heading marketing for one of the top global health benefits providers, I had just come out of a meeting with the CEO and immediately called my own staff to provide all the answers to several issues. At the end of that meeting my head of research, MY HEAD OF RESEARCH… stood up and said, “I’m going outside to have a cigarette and find out what is really going on!”

At first I was really angered by that statement but then realized what he just told me… “people don’t believe any of these preplanned statements so we like to come up with our own truths…” I then wondered if more of us should take up smoking so we could go outside and find out what is really going on! Those smoker’s hamlets were basically liberated water coolers, allowing employees to say what they want and weigh in on what is going on with minimal risk of being ratted out. Being caught was minimal since no one in the C Suite would be caught dead smoking and the few that did would never break the Smoker’s Code…

So what does this mean and what does it have to do with anything?

  • Employees will talk and trust me, they will talk about you – so give them something good to talk about
  • Employees want to feel like they are part of something great – your company allows that opportunity – so give them something good to talk about!
  • An employee’s decision to work for you is a reflection on them. Therefore, it would only stand to reason that they desire to say something good about their employer – so again, give them something good to talk about!

The fact that so many employees are willing to bad mouth their employers demonstrates what a dismal job companies have done to truly engage their employees. It is also curious as to why that is — after all, human capital is one of their biggest investments and the only one that can take your inner knowledge with them if they decide to work elsewhere.

So what do you do? How do you take advantage of this social networking in a way that builds employee engagement and is good for your bottom line? Well, there isn’t a playbook that is good for all. But there are a few things you can keep in mind… most of it sounds like good parental advice, namely:

  • .. don’t spin. Take it all in! It’s great to get accolades but listen closely to your biggest critics and greatest critiques. Your employees have more knowledge than you about your products, services, customers, and operations. They want to succeed meaning they want you to succeed.
  • Pay closest attention to employees who are closest to your customers. Those who are in your customer service operations know your customers better than anyone. And they know your product better than anyone. They are the ones explaining when things go wrong and build the long term bonds that lead to a sustainable customer base.
  • In most cases, your customers stay with you because of your employees — not because of you. Strong relationships are forged between your employees and customers, leveraging that bond for continuous improvement will only help your business

Considering that your knowledge and best customer relationships are ingrained in your employee base, you can’t afford NOT to continuously engage with them. The technology today merely enables a better connection.

Author: Ed Faruolo

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Hi, I'm Ligia, business strategist and co-founder at attuning.org. I am interested in the concept of teaching through games and play. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

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