To Incentivize or Not: Challenges in Implementation of Enterprise Social Networks

To Incentivize or Not: Challenges in Implementation of Enterprise Social Networks

Yesterday, Dan Pontefract published a thought-provoking post on the pros and cons of offering incentives to employees for participation in professional social networks like Yammer or SocialCast.

(For some background reading on the useful applications of social networks in the work sphere, read our posts on What Is Social Learning? and Test Driving Yammer.)

Dan’s post got me thinking: Is the challenge to adoption of enterprise social networks that folks don’t want to participate, don’t know how to participate or don’t prioritize participating? Of course, as in any complex situation, the answer is all of the above.

Time is on Your Side

In my experience, however, the biggest obstacle to adoption is time. At OpenSesame, we use Yammer for internal sharing, but our busy schedules make it hard to spend time on the thoughtful reflection and discussion that makes Yammer valuable. In other words, my colleagues and I are adequately incentivized by the discussion but unable to devote time to it.

They say that the true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. It’s incredibly difficult to realize when you’re missing opportunities to improve (and avoid insanity) if you don’t have time to focus on evaluating what you’re doing and what you’re doing right.

The most meaningful incentive in this insanely fast-paced and dynamic work climate would be time. Time to reflect, discuss and share.

In my last job, when we were welcoming new employees, we set aside 10-20 minutes at the end of every day during the training period for the newbies to write in their journals. At the end of three months, new employees gave presentations highlighting their learning process.

This was an extremely meaningful exercise for both the new employees and also for their mentors to understand the most memorable and meaningful components of the training experience. It helped us reform our training process to focus on truly essential topics.

Making Time

So if you’re taking the lead on building a social learning environment in your organization, I recommend that you don’t do it without adequate time. As you work with your colleagues to build an environment that meets their needs and expectations, become an advocate for their opportunities to learn by giving them the gift of reflection time.

As a result, not only will you see growing engagement in your social netowrk, I predict that your organization’s employees will also feel more engaged in the work itself. Showing your colleagues that you value their opportunities to think, reflect, and learn will demonstrate that you are serious about fostering their professional growth.

Whether it’s ten minutes a day or ten minutes a week, make time for your employees to share and learn from each other.


Image Credit: Mullenkedheim on Flickr