5 Employee Engagement Lessons From IBM

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Some top brands are respected for the way they maintain an engaged workforce having employees who are passionate about their jobs and proud about working there. In this article, we share some of the employee engagement initiatives which make top brands attractive. In particular, we analyze how IBM has managed to secure and retain an engaged workforce, with most employees being willing to complete their careers there.

It is the desire of every organization to build a high-performing, engaged, and responsible workforce. A critical ingredient in developing such a workforce is the ability to observe and understand trends and then customizing corporate job offerings to adapt to a changing workforce. This enables the organization and its managers to be in control to find and implement new ways to raise employee engagement levels.

IBM has been a leading light in the implementation of successful employee engagement initiatives which are not only beneficial to the employees but also demonstrate the relationship between employee engagement, sustainable communities, and improved business performance. Below, we analyze some of the major employee engagement initiatives implemented at IBM.

1. Triple Benefits Programs

IBM has put in place triple benefits programs which are designed to create value for the employees (IBMers), the organization, and the community through the execution of social good projects. These programs are highly-regarded leadership development opportunities for IBMers and provide communities around the world with essential pro bono problem-solving resources and knowledge. Additionally, the programs are beneficial to IBM in that the company is able to build continuing value and enhance its reputation in growth markets.

The two programs are:

  • Community-driven economic projects:
    The IBM program for implementation of community project is known as the Corporate Service Corps. It provides the IBMers with high-quality leadership development experience by sending them to apply cutting-edge technology in community-driven economic development projects in emerging markets.After spending 3 months of studying the communities and problems to be solved and being deployed on the ground working for 4 weeks, a majority of the employees have reported that the program boosted their desire to complete their careers at IBM.

    Some example of a community well-being project in Indonesia are these 2 social good projects:

    • With agriculture being one of the main economic activities in Indonesia, and the rise of smartphone penetration in Indonesia, Karsa web & mobile app is developed to promote better farming practices for farmers in Indonesia.
    • To promote the growth of democracy, a project to encourage citizens participation in elections by enabling mobile apps developers to have access to the government election repository to build innovative apps.
  • Smarter Cities Challenge:
    Through this program IBM contributes skills, expertise, and technology to help alleviate critical urban challenges faced by cities around the world. The IBM teams work with the city administrators to deliver recommendations on how best the cities can become smarter and more effective for the residents.
  • Smart city projects can help to simplify life in big cities and are very interesting for the employees to explore. For example, our smart city mobile app project enables the public to view all of the city information such as bus & train schedules, details of city events, updated city news, utility bills payments, and order food & supplies.

    Additionally, the app has an emergency button for the citizen to call for emergency services to their location when in distress. Employees’ participation in this project gave them an opportunity to make a direct contribution in alleviating the standards of living for city dwellers. It created a sense of pride, boosted their morale, and provided a stepping stone for similar projects in future.

 

These two programs have redefined employee engagements by creating social good projects which have become leadership development programs. IBMers who have undergone the programs have reported that the experience had increased their ability to lead a global team.

The participation in such programs has the potential to significantly motivate the staff to perform better once they are back to the office. This is because the employees have a better understanding of the important role that the firm places in the community.
 

2. Innovative performance management

When IBM’s performance management system could no longer align with how IBMers were working, the company did not follow the familiar procedure of convening HR manager to develop a new one.  Rather, the HR Department decided to use Connections, their internal social media platform, to solicit ideas, conduct roundtables and encourage feedback. The company collected close to 100,000 comments from blogs and physical roundtables.

The company used social listening technology to identify demographics which were not participating in the project and ensured that they participated in the roundtables. In addition, the name of the performance management project, Connections, was sourced from the employees through the same platform.

If you’re looking for a social media engagement app we can help you with one designed to provide an organization with a secure platform for community networking with an interactive timeline for the corporate feed & the people feed.
 

3. Prediction of employee attrition

Another application of predictive analytics in IBM is the prediction of employees who are at the risk of leaving the company. And that is not all; the application is also able to give the exact factors which are prompting the staff turnover. This allows the HR department to make smarter decisions about employee retention.
 

4. Learning and growth

IBM has deployed an in-house professional development platform which allows employees to undertake both in-house lessons and external education programs. Known as Think Academy, this multi-faceted program has enabled the employees to learn and develop critical skills necessary to deliver the company’s strategic objectives.

Think Academy is a perfect example of how technology has been applied to transform corporate learning through the use of MOOCs (Massive, Open, Online Courses) which we have explained in an earlier article.
 

5. Application of social technologies

IBM has an extensive application of social approaches in finding and cultivating expertise, understanding employee sentiments, and fostering collaboration. These applications include:

  • The Soon 2 B Blue social platform that connects new hires to existing IBMers
  • digital BlueThx environment where employees can thank one another publicly or privately
  • learning programs which are infused with rich social and interaction and collaboration opportunities
  • Extensive usage of internal blogs and Connections online platform to disseminate new programs, solicit feedback and polish the IBMers experience

 
From the above, it is evident that IBM has applied an ingenious approach in boosting their employees’ engagement levels.  These innovative ideas can, with appropriate modification, be adopted by many businesses to secure, optimize and retain a highly motivated and engaged workforce. For example, WGS is working with IBM Watson AI to develop applications which can serve your employees and customers using natural language. For more details on how you can partner with us to improve your employees’ engagement scores, please contact us here.



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