How to Keep Your Collaboration Tools From Going Rogue

May 23, 2019

As a human resources professional, you care about the human side of your organization. You cultivate and drive organizational culture, and you implement processes that every team within your organization leans on to work effectively and efficiently. However, the way employees prefer to work is changing, and your organization needs to keep pace in order to retain top talent and remain efficient.

Platforms such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, and Microsoft Teams, are making organizations more digital and connected than ever before – and that’s a good thing. An HP study of 7,000 employees in 15 countries showed that employees working in environments with digital tools were 51% more likely to have strong job satisfaction and 43% more likely to be positive about their work-life balance than those who have less access to workplace technology.

Nevertheless, embracing a digital workplace can raise concerns among HR pros, especially as it relates to employees’ engagement, sentiment, and safety. To help address those concerns, we’ve collected (and answered) some of the most-asked questions from HR professionals regarding digital enterprise collaboration platforms:

Q. Is there a protocol we should put into place before rolling out our platform?

A. Prior to rolling out a digital collaboration solution to your company, internal communications leaders should create a community management strategy that looks something like this:

  • Identify a community manager
  • Define what endorsed behavior looks like on these tools for your organization: Are there specific topics (e.g. personal, confidential) that are off-limits? Where should certain information live in the platform? Should specific questions or topics be directed to certain groups or individuals?
  • Outline how the community manager will monitor the digital community and reinforce these endorsed behaviors
  • Have a response plan for unsanctioned or distracting behavior

Your internal communications teams should work closely with the HR team to define appropriate behaviors and create response plans – particularly for behavior the violates policies or the organization’s code of conduct.

Q. How do we shield our employees against toxic behavior such as inappropriate language, harassment or discrimination?

A. Unfortunately, human behavior risk lives in every organization. If an employee exhibits toxicity in the workplace, they often behave similarly (if not worse) on a digital platform — especially in private areas such as one-on-one chats or private groups.

The best way to protect employees against unsafe or toxic co-worker behavior is through real-time behavior monitoring. Pair your digital workplace solution with a tool that surfaces inappropriate content by looking for keywords, patterns and other behavior anomalies. This way your HR team can receive notifications of inappropriate behavior and act swiftly to remedy the situation before it becomes a bigger issue.

Q. What’s the most effective way to make sure our employees follow our policies and code of conduct when using new collaboration tools?

A. The success of your project could depend on how well your employees honor company policies – one bad apple could shut the whole thing down. But it doesn’t need to. As mentioned above, human resources leaders should work closely with internal communications leaders to implement safeguards and response plans in case things go awry.

You can accomplish this in two simple steps:

  1. Make sure the appropriate community managers have access to public and private employee communications. This is key to monitoring and responding to inappropriate behavior, and also for discovery if further investigation is necessary.
  2. In your community management plan, be sure to detail your response and escalation plan for concerning behavior. Who needs to be notified of the incident? Should the content be removed from the platform? How should the offending employee be coached? What information or services should be offered to the victim?

Q. How can my company use these digital platforms to understand employee engagement, sentiment and other measures?

A. Human resources teams spend millions on annual surveys and other tools to understand employees’ moods and perceptions of their organization, leadership and culture. However, practices are out-of-date, untimely and often an inaccurate representation of how employees feel about workplace issues.

Employees share the good and bad of their work experience with each other in one-to-one chat or private groups on digital collaboration tools. Along with these digital conversations comes a slew of data that offers HR professionals incredible insight into company and employee behavior.

By tapping into the conversation data generated on these tools, leaders can better understand workplace engagement and sentiment. As a result, human resources and the larger organization gain deeper insights that can guide decisions and strengthen employee retention, productivity and more.

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