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Empower Your People and Improve Your Bottom Line Using Online Community

Written by Brian Weiner on July 5, 2018 at 8:55 AM

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Helping employees succeed and produce value for your organization is a universal objective for businesses, regardless of location, size or vertical. Providing them with resources and achieving this task was far easier in the past when employees worked in the same physical location, but with the advance of technology in the last decade, the modern workforce has become increasingly mobile. In fact, CNBC recently reported that 70 percent of people globally work remotely at least once a week.  

While technology has vastly improved to allow for this type of remote work, organizations are now struggling to keep their employees engaged and informed. Moreover, businesses are quickly adopting the trends of direct selling models and multi-level-marketing. The direct selling channel is predicted to reach $163.1 billion by 2020 with a CAGR of 4.9 percent, according to Euromonitor Direct selling organizations are attractive to individuals because you get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and most importantly, can work from anywhere. However, this presents an ongoing challenge for the organization to onboard, retain the consultants and provide them on-the-fly mobile access to content and social learning.

To address this communication challenge, many organizations have adopted chat tools like Slack and Skype. Unfortunately, these applications address a very narrow use case and the community misses the valuable insight learned through shared peer-to-peer conversationsSharePoint is extremely popular as well but lacks key components, including personalization, and is a huge IT burden.  

All things considered, organizations are opting for a more holistic approach. They’re implementing community platforms to create a dynamic, collaborative environment that is personalized for the individual. These community platforms increase employee engagement while simultaneously providing easy access to content and information. They also provide the benefits of education, retention and intelligence to the organization that implements them. 

Provide employees with continuing education 

Community platforms allow for a social learning approach whereby employees and consultants can easily and freely share ideas, experiences and best practices. Another added benefit is access to mentor/mentee opportunities. These platforms index questions and answers, tags and permission content, and can even segment individuals into different groups within the community. Disseminating a constant flow of content, such as new product information, pitches and approaches, is simple and easy. This content can also seamlessly plug into a learning management solution (LMS). Companies can then use this content to develop a formal onboarding curriculum and continuing education programming. This equates to increased sales and a highly engaged sales force. 

Help employees feel like part of the team 

Studies show that when your best employees are not engaged, they are just as likely to leave your organization as those employees who perform poorly and are unhappy. If you want to retain top talent, it’s important to understand why this is. A more engaged employee, much like a customer, is more likely to stay with the organization. If employees are sharing their successes, new hires are more likely to stay with the organization. If employees feel more connected to the larger community, they are more likely to stay with the organization. Easy access to content, the ability to ask questions and the potential to accelerate successes contribute to an employee feeling like part of the team.  

Give employees a voice 

From an organizational standpoint, the most important benefit of a community is intelligence and it comes in two forms: user-specific analytics and/or direct employee feedback.   

User-specific analytics provide insight into who is more engaged and what actions they took in the community. Because this information can be sent back to the organization’s source system, it can be overlaid with other statistics, such as sales and length of time with the organization, to show tangible benefits of the community. For example, if an organization knows there is a correlation between an employee’s retention and the number of times they contribute in the community, how will this impact the use of the community going forward?  

The simpler forms come from direct employee feedback. Community offers employees a place to share ideas among themselves, as well as with the organization. Feedback can be also be solicited through polls and surveys or by creating an ideation page. Community platforms tap into the “voice of the employee” and offer an opportunity to see what resources or changes can be implemented to achieve organizational success. 

Overall, connecting with your employees in this era of remote work can be a challenge. But online communities are making it easier for organizations to bring their people together and help them achieve the success that contributes to your organization’s bottom line.  

Use this guide to evaluate, select, and plan a successful online community for your association.

Topics: Engagement, Online Community

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