Employee Engagement in a Digital World

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A digital world, one that is highly social and intricately connected, is based on transparency: everyone knows everything at all times. Fast-paced communication means that news, information, and opinions are exchanged constantly. At a moment in time when everyone is perpetually in touch, it is more important than ever that employees are engaged in corporate culture. A weak corporate culture, without the support of internal branding, is all too easy to broadcast: employees who don’t care about their company because they don’t feel any connection to it won’t hesitate to share their lack of enthusiasm with their complex network of friends and family. After all, a brand is the image that employees, stakeholders, and customers have of your organization (and not what the organization says about itself), constructed from their experiences with the company, such as customer service and corporate culture.

Employees are gateways to the company. They should act as brand ambassadors who are enthusiastic about their corporate community, have the knowledge and tools to communicate what it stands for, and present a unified face to all constituents. Therefore, getting creative with employee engagement is crucial at a time when people can find constant stimulation from their screens and networks. Encouragingly, McKinsey did a study on employee incentives in 2009 that proved that some nonfinancial incentives (such a praise, attention, and opportunity) are more effective motivators than financial incentives. Employees who communicate that they work in an open and supportive environment provide the company with the positive and authentic publicity that traditional advertising simply cannot.

The Economist recently chronicled several attempts by companies to cultivate a corporate culture in a piece titled Got Talent?. The article noted that “if employees find their jobs boring, they will become demotivated and leave, and finding replacements is time-consuming and costly. So companies are doing their best to keep even people doing routine jobs engaged in their work.” Being an important communications channel, employees need to be clearly informed about the company’s brand, its mission, vision, and values. A positive corporate culture can support a positive overall brand image (for example, Google is not only known for its products, but also for its sought-after corporate culture). And at a moment in time when we are constantly bombarded by images, now more than ever, image is everything.

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