The Importance of Employee-Led Communities

May 22, 2017 Nicole Klemp

Empowering employees to self-organize can make a big impact on engagement. (And by self-organize, I mean the organization of employee groups and committees — not unions. That’s an entirely different conversation that I am very unqualified to comment on.) Employee-led communities can be professional, social, or job-specific, and should be created and managed by members.

Traditionally, HR teams or other business leaders have created initiatives and encouraged (or forced) employees to participate. But company-sanctioned communities can feel too limiting and “official,” which can make participation feel less like a perk, and more like another job responsibility. Rather than creating peer groups for workers, allow (and encourage) your people to self-organize. When people take ownership of the communities they start or join, they tend to place a higher importance on the success of the group. All employers need to do is provide the tools and platforms for these communities to organically develop, and empower employees to take the reigns — with little interference or oversight.

Allow workers to organize around common interests

Think about the social communities that people form outside of work: book clubs, fan clubs, walking groups, political activist groups … there are countless reasons that people gather and form communities (whether in person or virtually). But the reason these groups form and grow is always the same — people have a common interest they want to share with others like them. Work communities are no different; workers want a space where they can communicate openly about their jobs, learn from others, and grow as a person and an employee. A great example of this type of employee-led group is a Center of Excellence (CoE) —  a cross functional group of people in your organization that come together to discuss and collaborate on large-scale concepts, granular ideas, tools, and solutions pertaining to a specific platform or business initiative.

Even if employee groups are less specific (and perhaps not even job-related), they can still be beneficial to the organization as a whole. Professional development or mentoring communities (e.g., Lean In) are great outlets for employees to grow and learn, and can provide them with the tools to be happier and more productive in their day-to-day. Even social groups organized by employees can be great for team-building and collaboration.

Enabling technologies

There are only two things employers need to do to support employee-led communities:

  1. Be supportive and encourage employees to cultivate their passions.
  2. Provide the tools needed for workers to engage and collaborate.

The more connected employees can be, the easier it will be for them to organize and engage with one another. Collaborative tools like Salesforce Chatter and Salesforce Communities are great for enabling employee groups. Chatter groups can be created easily, and the ability to tag someone, comment on posts, or share links and pictures, make it feel natural to social media users (so … pretty much everyone). With Communities, employees can personalize their groups, and the intuitive platform allows information to be shared easily. And best of all, it’s accessible via the Salesforce1 mobile app.

Even with remote or global workers, face time can be extremely beneficial to engagement —  particularly when it comes to creating lasting connections. G-Suite applications like Gmail and Google Hangouts are great for staying connected and meeting face-to-face with a work community. Employees can also use Google Drive to share and collaborate on group documents in real time. Whether an employee is in Paris or Pennsylvania, they can be equally engaged in an employee community if they are supported by leadership and empowered with the right tools.

Learn more at the Worker Experience Tour

Employee engagement is an outcome of the Virtuous Cycle of customer and worker experiences. It’s a topic that industry experts and top business leaders will be discussing at the Appirio Worker Experience Tour. After the great feedback from last year’s tour, we’re back for 2017 and coming to a city near you. Register now!

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