Since the explosion of social media, networking in business has taken on a whole new dimension. Yet what many managers and business owners have not yet caught onto is the valuable role internal networking and HCM Software can play in staff retention. Businesses are sometimes hesitant to implement internal networking systems because they aren’t sure what platforms or technology to use, or they are concerned about costs and administration, and its overall effectiveness. Before looking at how to successfully implement internal networking systems, let’s consider some of the benefits specifically relating to employee retention.
1. Expertise and information flow
Innovations often emerge from informal interactions when people simply approach tasks from different perspectives. Internal networking provides greater access to the expertise within an organisation in a more informal way. Departments that may not naturally interact on a daily basis can draw from one another’s expertise to form ideas that may provide innovation solutions. Networking facilitates the flow of information and knowledge sharing between departments and people. Employees can contribute to the learning of others and this gives them a sense of belonging which in turn contributes to employee retention. They are no longer just an employee sitting at a desk doing a job, they have a tangible sense of contributing to the bigger picture and purpose of the business.
2. Building relationships and fostering collaboration
With internal networking, employees gain a better understanding of other people’s roles within the organisation, from co-workers and peers to managers. This understanding helps to build better working relationships between co-workers in different departments and can also help reduce conflict.
When one person is looking for information or has a query they can use the network to find the right person with the right expertise to assist them. This more collaborative type of working environment fosters greater staff retention as people are encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise while at the same time having the opportunity to learn from others.
3. Integration with HCM software
Data captured within the network can be filtered to identify people with specific expertise or those who contribute and collaborate more. Individuals can be flagged for promotion or leadership opportunities and Human Capital Managers can gain a better understanding of where the expertise lies within an organisation.
Productivity can also be measured using metrics within HCM software systems and areas with improved efficiency can be more easily identified. This type of system integration can help reduce costs both operationally and in terms of employee retention. By retaining the expertise within the organisation it builds intellectual capital, promoting operational excellence. By comparison, when people leave an organisation, they take with them their expertise and the company then has to start the training process all over again, building up the level of expertise from an entry level. This takes time and costs the company in terms of resources.
4. Costs of not networking
It is estimated that productivity losses due to communication breakdowns within organisations can amount to as much as £17,500 per employee on an annual basis. In addition, it is estimated that organisations spend on average 17 hours a week simply clarifying communication between departments. In a company with 100 employees this can be valued at a cost of +/- £350,000 per annum. Internal networking can vastly improve communications and collaboration and can reduce these costs, making a big impact on both productivity and the business bottom line.
What to consider when implementing internal networking?
While informal networks such as Whatsapp chat groups tend to form naturally among peers, they are more difficult to manage and cannot be easily integrated with HCM Software systems. It is better for large organisations that wish to promote internal networking and use the data, to create formal networking channels using technology that is easy to implement and integrate. By being able to track information and communications, key areas of expertise can be identified which can help promote staff retention.
Different internal networks can be identified by specific projects, areas of expertise or departments, and can be moderated by a more senior staff member. It is recommended to manage each network internally by specific topics so that the threads do not get too long or complicated. This will facilitate better communications as well as make it easier to find relevant information quickly.
An objective of implementing an internal networking system should ultimately be to evolve the company culture into an environment that promotes good communications and collaboration, and generates information on which to build company best practices.
This type of culture cultivates a sense of belonging and purpose in employees in which they feel valued and enjoy coming to work. It’s a way to capitalise on the existing expertise within an organisation and leverage this, not only for greater productivity and reduced operational costs, but also most importantly, improved employee retention.