Mike Chavarria, Expert In High Touch Research Approaches: Insights Communities, Mobile Research, and Digital Passive Metering
Who could have predicted that a year into the pandemic, we’d still be doing Zoom happy hours with friends, or changing diapers during conference calls (just me?), or even something that seems so normal now like working from home full time? Let’s be real, when this pandemic hit most of us thought “maybe this will last two or three weeks then we’ll get back to normal.” Seems silly to look back on now. What we’ve all done, even the most inflexible of us, is learn to adapt.
Employers are learning to adapt to this new environment too. According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management 7 in 10 employers have struggled to adapt to remote work, and 2 out of 3 employers say maintaining employee morale has been a challenge. This makes all the sense in the world for those of us used to being able to collaborate with our colleagues in real time, whether it’s in a meeting, at the water cooler, or happy hour after work. It’s also the key reason we’re seeing a major increase in our research clients reaching out with interest in building Employee Insight Communities.
Insight Communities are the fastest growing Market Research methodology because they allow brands to gather continual and fast feedback from their core audiences, all while having an ecosystem that encourages community members to interact and engage with each other, kind of like social media. Predominantly we think about Insight Communities as a tool for customer or potential customer research, but there are a number of reasons they’re ideally suited for employers in our post-COVID world. For brands that want to do multiple things at once – gather critical insights about their employees while keeping them engaged, communities can be a time-saving and cost-effective tool.
Without further ado here are five reasons employee communities are blowing up in 2021:
With workers spread all over the place it’s super important to find new ways to keep connections with colleagues online. Most people think of Insight Communities simply as a place to do surveys or focus groups, but the interface is perfect for fun and interactive employee engagement activities. In our own ISA Employee Community we’ve had activities like Pet Pageants, Recipe Shares, and an ongoing Coworker of the Week. All of these activities have helped foster relationships and helped our team feel like a team, even though we’re all spread out.
Employee Pulse and Satisfaction Research
Let’s be real, it’s a lot easier to gauge an employee’s happiness in their job when you’re around them in person every day. Things get a bit trickier when you see each other in Zoom meetings here and there. Employee Communities are the perfect way to track employee satisfaction. Our clients have leveraged them to run quarterly satisfaction surveys, and some have even gone so far as to build Morale Diaries where employees check in each week to share how they’re feeling, what’s working, and what challenges they’re facing.
Ideation, Innovation, and Crowdsourcing
One of the biggest pain points for companies in a remote work setting is losing the collaboration that comes from your face-to-face interaction with colleagues. Using the Ideation Session functionality that comes in some Insight Community platforms such as ours (shameless plug) can help foster that same collaboration that might be missing. The crowdsourcing can run the gamut from perks and benefits workers would like to see, to new product and service ideas. Employees can vote on each other’s ideas, follow each other, and provide their own feedback on new ideas in the comments. Major bonus – your employees know your customers wants and needs more than anyone! Why wouldn’t you want to have a pulse on what they’re hearing from your customers?
I’m not going to lie, I miss hugs. I also miss pats on the back, and giving pats on the back. I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone. It’s tougher to give shout outs for a job well done in a remote world. Now, I’m not going to say an Employee Community can totally replace the feeling of an in-person shout out, but being recognized by your boss or coworkers in an online environment can feel pretty darn good too. We have clients who leverage the community interface to announce promotions, and in our own ISA Employee Community we built a “Shout Out” page where workers can give each other kudos for whatever they want. Shout outs for the win!
Advisory Boards and Leadership Committees
It’s very unlikely your company party planning committee is still meeting regularly. On the plus side, that leaves extra party planning budget for next year (goodbye pizza party, hello fancy corporate retreat, am I right?). You’ve likely thought about a Customer Advisory Board, or maybe you already have one in place. Employee Advisory Boards can fulfill a similar function. For those committees still meeting an Employee Community is a great way to connect. The built in Live Chat feature allows for real-time discussion among team members, or even Town Halls with leadership.
In this crazy environment it’s more important than ever to listen and keep a pulse on what’s going on with your workforce. Understanding employee satisfaction, crowdsourcing new perks and benefits, and gathering in-depth insights from your most valuable resource, your team, is crucial to a successful organization. Employee Insight Communities leverage the power of your team members engaging with each other while giving you the research tools you need to truly understand what’s going on in the workplace. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.