How many times have you avoided your supervisor who tries to pry into your personal life? How often have you cringed when your organization encroaches on your life outside of work by calling you to work on weekends or conduct events?
There are differing viewpoints about the level of interventions organizations can play in their employees’ lives outside of work. I happened to read an article which asked three senior human resource professionals in India on their perspectives. The responses ranged from indifference to interference.
Interestingly, the recent India Best Places To Work Study 2009 demonstrates that workplaces that encourage flexibility, engagement and freedom to have motivated employees.
Some experts believe that organizations must show concern and appreciation for employees even outside of work while others think it may amount to intrusion. The supervisors’ role in understanding their teams helps in this context.
I am aware of organization’s which encourage managers to strictly monitor their employees’ life beyond office hours and ensure that work gets completed even if it means sacrificing personal time on weekends. While it is expected for managers to have a broad idea of their team’s personal priorities and interests to help connect better, there has to be a balance. When managers overstep the line by playing counselor to personal issues, they run a risk of alienating their workforce.
So what is the relevance to internal communication? As a communicator, by understanding the priorities and interests of your employees, you stand to gain by tapping the power of their collective wisdom.
Organizations have three broad options to choose from – a) Maintaining status quo – paying no heed to the employees’ conduct outside of work b) Intervene on a case to case basis – for example, if employees seek support for projects c) Proactively convert employees to ambassadors.
I personally believe in the third approach. Going by the groundswell of social media changes, organizations can’t afford to ignore the potential of its employees. Some have invested in internal tools which mimic social networking sites while others have created templates to capture their interests and pursuits.
Can you tap their passion for corporate social responsibility if you knew your employees spent a sizable amount of time on weekends serving NGOs?
Is there a potential of cost saving for internal communication campaigns by inviting talented photographers from among your employees to contribute their best images?
Do you know how many employees blog outside of work and on which topics?
Can you provide them suitable messages which resonate with your brand? Would you really need a press release?
Are you aware of their entrepreneurial ideas which your organization can incubate?
This has a relevance even to areas such as recruitment marketing, public relations, marketing and branding.
The opportunities are immense. What is needed to translate intent and ideas to action is leadership conviction. Begin now or miss out on making your employees communication advocates.