Next-generation communities—Part 3 Eight ways to engage employees in communities at work
7. Use contests and games to motivate community participation
Gamification is the use of game mechanics and psychology to drive a specific set of desired behaviors. Organizations allow community members to earn “kudos,” points or badges in exchange for certain types of community participation. One benefit of gamification is that the motivation it provides is incremental and ongoing, compared to annual awards that quickly fade from memory. It also makes it easier to recognize every community member who reaches a certain goal, rather than a small number of top performers. In addition, badges and other game status indicators help people identify the most active and knowledgeable community members to reach out to when they’re in need of guidance or support.
Nalco Water uses digital badges to recognize community contributions. The badges appear on each employee’s SharePoint MySite profile. Some badges are activity-based. For example, employees can obtain a “Collaborator” badge for being an active member of multiple communities and a “Connector” badge for following numerous colleagues or having lots of followers. Nalco also uses peer-to-peer badges that community members can award to each other. The organization’s KM team reports that badges are surprisingly effective in keeping members engaged.
8. Use analytics to understand members and what drives them
Virtual communities have always generated a lot of data. But in recent years, it’s become easier for KM teams to access and analyze data through built-in reporting tools or simple add-ons such as Google Analytics. While all the organizations in APQC’s study monitor community metrics to evaluate performance, some take a more advanced approach that allows them to proactively assess engagement and target under-engaged groups.
Energy management company Schneider Electric is a good example of this. Schneider Electric has a “return on engagement” index that aggregates:
♦ adoption and participation statistics such as online activity levels and event attendance;
♦ engagement, satisfaction and learning statistics based on member surveys; and
♦ efficiency indicators such as documented success stories that articulate benefits and the value realized.
The KM team then analyzes the data through advanced statistical methods such as principal components analysis and clustering to pinpoint characteristics that make employees or groups particularly likely—or unlikely—to be engaged in communities. This allows the organization to better target its engagement efforts.
For example, Schneider Electric’s KM team identified a group composed of male, lower-level non-managers new to the company, engaged in client projects and located in new economies as detractors of the community program. The KM team directly engaged this group and as a result, they changed their opinion to “neutral.” The team is hoping that through continued engagement efforts, this group will ultimately become “promoters” of the communities.
Key takeaway: Use multiple strategies
When it comes to engagement, there’s no silver bullet or one right answer. Each strategy engages employees in a different way or at a different point in their careers. Approaches that are effective for one business area or target audience may not be as relevant or compelling for others. As a result, most best-practice organizations use multiple strategies to drive engagement. APQC’s statistical analysis found that community engagement tactics are statistically linked to community effectiveness, especially when multiple techniques are used (see Figure 2).
Community programs leveraging three or more engagement strategies are more likely to be rated as effective or very effective in achieving their objectives. But it’s also important to notice how moving from one to two engagement strategies multiplies effectiveness. Organizations can benefit by adding even one additional engagement strategy. Integrating community engagement into pre-existing structures—such as onboarding, established conferences and events, and performance management—may be low-hanging fruit for firms looking to strengthen engagement in their community programs.