The evolving role of internal social networks in the workplace

The growth of social media platforms in our lives has significantly altered the way we communicate with each other, both at home and in the workplace. From Facebook to Flickr, social media provides instant access to information and promotes cross-functional collaboration.

So why wouldn’t businesses be on board? Without engaging with one another, how can an organisation expect its employees to maintain a sense of team spirit or corporate culture?

An internal social network is a tool for employers to better understand their employees, by helping them to connect, learn, share and grow. It allows for open communication inspiring creative dialogues across generations and geographies.

>See also: Social media in the enterprise: How to prove ROI

In 2011, HCL introduced MEME, an internal networking platform created and led entirely by our employees. HCL’s unique culture of grassroots, business-driven, customer-focused innovation provides every employee the license to ideate – and we see this integral to our culture of encouraging innovative ideas.

This unique cultural architecture has fostered a vibrant entrepreneurial atmosphere where employees take the lead in finding solutions to business challenges, as well as implementing them.

Through this initiative, some of the employees who were committed to translating their creativity into action, worked assiduously to transform their vision into what is a very successful HCL digital asset today.

Within weeks of the launch, employees across the globe were connecting with each other through posts, picture uploads, and comments. Additionally, staff started sharing documents and resources with each other to aid collaborative working. So how did our internal social media platform go from an experiment to the bedrock of company culture?

Transparent communication

Just like any other social channel, MEME encourages employees to express themselves. It facilitates two-way communication between the organisation and our employees, which is faster, more open and more personal than conventional means of contact.

MEME users have been successfully leveraging the platform so it serves as a source of support from a number of functions such as HR, IT help desk, and other service desks.

It abandons constrictive hierarchies, making it possible for employees to discuss their ideas on anything, from their professional passion to personal interest with anyone. As a result, it is quickly replacing email as the main vehicle of internal communications at the workplace.

Driven by a desire to respond to the changing preference of the workforce to have instant access to information and promote cross-functional collaboration, employees recognised the need to provide a platform that would engage people by helping them to connect, learn, share and grow.

MEME today serves as the platform of choice for employees to exchange information and ideas, learn from each other’s experiences (professional or personal), and enhance their knowledge by participating in discussions across domains. The introduction of this platform has enabled our workforce to collaborate more efficiently by making organisational information accessible to all.

Increased engagement

MEME reflects our belief to enhance transparency throughout the business. Employees are invited to comment freely on any aspect of the organisation that concerns them – be it existing policies or part of discussions that concern employee welfare, their input is necessary to shape future policies.

One of the applications hosted on MEME is Career Connect, which enables employees to understand the future roles they aspire for, crowd-source advise, seek referrals, and then co-create their career development plan with the network of counselors, including their managers or an expert of their choice.

Career Connect acts as a ‘mirror’ for employees to self-asses their strengths, weaknesses and grasp opportunities available within the company accordingly.

>See also: How to become a social enterprise

Fundamentally, MEME is employee-driven and socially guided, which is why it has been so successful.

There are many ways to leverage social media in the workplace. Whether you are a CEO or an intern, an engaging social media platform can bring a workforce closer together.

Besides enabling collaboration across the workforce, MEME has helped generate value for HCL and its clients from employees across the globe.

The platform demonstrates success driven by open communication and information sharing that is benefiting the business, and more importantly the growth and development of our employees.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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