Guest Column - November/December 2010

Building an Employee-Enriched Culture With Social Media

By Dana LaSalvia

With the increase of Gen X's and Y's ruling the workforce, employers are continually searching for new and innovative ways to create an employee-centric workplace and retain valuable talent. The current workforce—which is heavily comprised of post-baby boomers—are tech-savvy, more educated and do not hold the same level of allegiance to employers as their predecessors once did. These individuals rely heavily on technology to stay connected in order to perform their jobs. From instant connections to the latest mobile applications to blogging on social media sites, this generation is plugged in and connected 24/7.

What does this mean to the loyalty industry? It is clear that employers need to capitalize on this social movement and understand how to communicate with their employees. Organizations should think about integrating companywide marketing messages and upgrading their employee recognition programs to be more virtual. Corporate goals and engagement tactics should be reinforced using multiple touch points like blogging, tweeting, text messaging and instant messaging if they want to stay connected and keep their company and employee recognition program front of mind.

A recent white paper by the Performance Improvement Council discusses the correlation of social networking and recognition to a "digital water cooler." Applying a virtual approach allows employees to share experiences and "news" while maintaining a greater sense of involvement ("Social Networking and Recognition: A Case for Virtual Story Telling and Real Results," 2010). Moreover, the concept of employee enrichment seems to be gaining momentum as companies are finding a greater need for employee engagement and driving behavior through social media that employees can relate to.

Employee Enrichment—What's It All About

As defined by the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, "employee enrichment provides superior opportunities to foster not just the quality of the work environment for better business performance, but for a richer life with personal well-being as the goal." This concept reaches beyond the work-life balance and attempts to improve people's lives with the expectation that "the better a person's well-being, the better that person performs."

But this isn't a new concept—just a new term. Employee "perks" or added benefits have been around for a long time. On-site childcare and doctors, flex time, employee recognition and retention programs, and paid sabbaticals are some of the modern day "perks," now termed employee enrichment benefits.

So, what's the best approach? Employers know that their team members want to be engaged and enriched, but how is this possible on a budget? The response is simple, the "perks" have not all changed—but the way to communicate them has. Companies like Rymax are maximizing the fact that these new generations prefer instant communication via Facebook and Twitter rather than face-to-face contact. When major companywide announcements are taking place, we direct our employees to check out the Rymax Insider, our company blog at Rather than printing out certificates of accomplishment for our spot recognition program, employees receive e-certificates—cost-effective methods that keep our program in motion.

According to Elizabeth Lupfer from the Social Workplace, "employees need to identify with the mission of their company and see a clear line of sight from their work to the achievement of the company's mission." Today's employees want to feel that they are making an individual and direct contribution in helping to attain business goals.