two people working on a computer solving a problem together
PHOTO: NESA by Makers

There’s a reason why workplace expert Josh Bersin earlier this month labeled “employee experience” the buzzword of the year: an improved employee experience is the ultimate quest towards successful, productive employees. We’ve all seen the studies that employees with a positive experience are more productive. In fact, recent findings from a Gallup poll showed that actively disengaged employees can cost US companies anywhere from $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

We’ve also seen the direct relationship between employee experience and a company's digital experience, which can contribute in positive and negative ways. According to findings from The Radicati Group, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received is expected to reach 319.6 billion by the end of 2021. While it’s important to stay connected, it’s equally critical to avoid the stressors that can arise with information overload.

Amidst this paradigm, Bersin’s advice is, “As you think about the ‘employee experience,’ you have to think about how to stop interrupting people and think about how to make their work easier, more productive, and more meaningful.”

My advice is simple: treat collaboration as an ally — not an enemy — in your efforts towards a better employee experience. Developing a successful engagement strategy does not need to be as tricky as it might seem. Through online collaborative spaces, employers have the power to keep employees knowledgeable and engaged from day one.

Below, I’ve outlined a fluid approach to enterprise knowledge sharing, where businesses can ensure equal information access that promotes both individual and organizational success.

Related Article: Why You Need to Map the Employee Journey

Preparation for New Additions: Onboarding Tactics

Training strategies should begin before your employee’s first day with the recruiting team determining who is the best fit for the company.

Once you've identified the people who are a strong fit from both an experience and cultural perspective, it’s all about preparation. We all know the feeling of starting at a new company and feeling inundated with information while also trying to find your bearings. This can ultimately lead to employees feeling unprepared and overwhelmed.

With this in mind, organizations must ensure that employees have the access to the tools and information that they need from day one. Housing this information in a digital central repository is key. This way, employees can easily refer back to any information that they might have missed throughout the onboarding process. This gives both the employee and organization peace of mind in knowing there is referenceable information available for any questions that might arise.

Related Article: When Onboarding New Employees, Make Your First Impression Count

Encouraging Participation: The Keys to Engagement

Engagement boils down to an employee’s desire to participate. Throughout my career, I’ve often seen engagement fade over time. This can be avoided by organizations showing their employees the benefits of participating in knowledge sharing and a culture of learning.

It’s typically the same cycle: new employees are bright-eyed and eager to get started and participate in the organization. For longer-term employees, who are often more cynical about trying new things, the story is not always the same. With this difference in mind, organizations must develop multiple engagement strategies to match the levels of the employee lifecycle. For new employees, encouragement to participate in knowledge sharing should be focused on learning organizational best practices. For longer-term employees, encouragement should center around career development and contributing back to the broader success of the company.

I’ve outlined a five-step engagement process to ensure the open flow of communication across organizations:

  1. Talk to your employees: Meet with individual contributors and ask them their opinion. What do they think the organization can do to develop departmental interest in collaborating with their peers?
  2. Digitally record and share information: Once your employees feel like you’re interested in hearing their opinions, provide them a place to share them. Create a digital, central space where employees can post documents, chat about projects and share feedback.
  3. Provide positive reinforcement: If employees receive positive feedback on their work, it will make them want to work harder. By highlighting team successes, organizations can show employees that their collaboration has resulted in business wins. This will in turn make them want to collaborate, and ultimately win more.
  4. Avoid outdated content: Central environments of information are helpful, but only if they’re kept up-to-date. If content gets outdated, this creates an inevitable cycle of employees believing that no one else cares, so why should they? Keeping content fresh and timely shows employees that digital knowledge-sharing environments are a key element to the organization’s success.
  5. Prevent over-engagement: Over-engagement can lead to wasted efforts. Avoid a “swarming effect” where multiple employees are answering the same questions in different ways through scaled digital platforms that provide digital information archives.

Engagement cannot be taught, but rather must be encouraged from day one. For organizations with tenured employees, incentivizing them to eagerly share opinions and feedback with their colleagues will not be easy. Creating a collaborative culture takes time, but is one which can be elevated through digital knowledge sharing and positive feedback.

Related Article: How Do You Know if You're Providing a Top Employee Experience?