This post was updated 08.11.16

When dealing with ESNs, implementation is, unsurprisingly, just the beginning.

A common trope of ESN implementations in large organisations is to see high levels of initial engagement, as employees investigate the platform and build their profiles. But then, as time goes by, the absence of clear, well-communicated, business-driven ESN use cases and means that there is a lack of incentive for users to continue their interaction with the platform.

Build it and they will come… have a look around, and then leave; when ESN users don’t know the what methods they should be using or how these methods can offer short- and long-term benefits to their working lives they inevitably get bored with the system and revert back to their standard practices and ways of working.

Avoiding a cliff drop in user adoption

Solving this problem requires two key things:

1) Leaders need to be transparent with their vision of the business case the ESN provides.

2) Leaders need to participate themselves and lead by example.

After all, everyone likes impressing their boss and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Structure and guidelines explaining how users are expected to collaborate over an ESN system in their everyday work needs to be in place. While we’d all like our team’s ways of working to form organically over time, this can’t be relied upon, at least not initially, as it takes time for users to learn and discover the optimal methods of use available to them.

In addition there are a range of techniques for healthy ESN engagement that require higher level organisation, such as:

Live Streamed Events

Leverage your ESN’s digital capabilities by live streaming video and audio of an event across the world to your whole organisation. Giving employees the opportunity to remotely attend events, such as talks or openings that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to through your company’s ESN, helps foster a community atmosphere and builds connections across territories.

Virtual town hall meetings

Create specific times at which associates are expected to interact with each other in an informal chat space to raise problems and vote on and discuss potential solutions. Having set times for these activities are a great way to get high numbers of users engaging on a single problem, unlike forum posts which can often be left with no-replies.

Further reading