Learning and Development

Rise of the social employee

What is a social employee?

When Blue Focus Marketing® cofounder Mark Burgess and I first set out to write our book, The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, 2013), we had a good working theory of what we meant by the term. However, it wasn’t until organizations like IBM opened their doors to us that we began to see that theory being put into practice—and the results were truly eye opening.

Today’s organizations have a growing responsibility to internal cultures. For a company to stay nimble in the age of social business, its employees must be able to work independently and confidently, representing their brand on both internal and external platforms with and organizational safety net to guide them.

Naturally, building a social employee culture can’t be accomplished overnight, but organizational commitment can drive the process with incredible efficiency. And as we learned with IBM and their social computing guidelines, giving your employees a voice and a stake in the process is a win-win for both brand and individual.

Why is that? As Mark Burgess (@MNBurgess) argued in last year’s TEDx Navesink Talk, at the very least, a commitment to social processes empowers employees to embrace learning, to keep developing new skills, and to network more effectively. The social business prizes all of these traits, so social employees not only create more value for their company, but they make themselves more employable—and more effective at marketing their skills—in the process. Additionally, a plurality of social employee voices engaging through various creates a more dynamic digital footprint for brands, creating more opportunities for external customer engagement.

Ultimately, it is an employee’s ability to learn and adapt that will help drive future success within any organization. The 70:20:10 learning model, championed at IBM by Scott Edwards—and discussed at length in our recent webinar—offers a handy concept for how employees actually learn in the workplace. The breakdown goes like this: 70 percent of employee learning is self-directed, 20 percent is through mentoring or coaching, and 10 percent comes through formal training, workshops, etc.

One of the primary goals of employee training is to empower them to learn on their own as quickly and effectively as possible. This is precisely the argument put forward by Josh Bersin (@Josh_Bersin) in his report, “Predictions for 2015“:

In 2015, you should reevaluate your learning platform; make sure you have a plan to deliver a “digital learning experience” that lets people rapidly find the content they need, helps them to find experts, and advises them on the formal training appropriate to their roles. (p. 26)

Such an investment epitomizes the win-win scenario: Organizations become more efficient with streamlined employee learning systems, and these freshly empowered social employees develop a wider range of skills and knowledge that make them more employable and more valuable to a company.

This is what the social employee revolution is all about: building employees with deeper skillsets, better resources for learning, and the confidence to engage as authentic brand ambassadors.

What’s not to like about that?



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