Apart from being a blogger, I work in a software firm like most Indians do. The company provides me with a decent salary, a nice place to work and also a bunch of good colleagues. However, I have always dwelt on why employees are not allowed to access personal sites such as mails or social network sites. One reason being security but then visit any employee in a day and you will find that they browse Facebook on a regular basis. There is one more reason that has been never thought of or never cared about is the boring Intranet. Software companies now use it to just post information without giving a thought to employees views. This can’t carry on for long as the Facebook generation joining the race will need it. So businesses in India are slowly preparing themselves to find ways to keep the security thing intact and also provide a way to engage with employees. Persistent Systems on eyeing this opportunity, has developed eMee that promises to redefine employee engagement.
eMee, a product that has been developed for SMEs and large scale enterprises is an employee centric approach and it pitches with an idea of higher level of engagement results with less attrition. The product has interesting modules such as visualization of performance notes as virtual gifts, continuous performance monitoring, feedback and mentoring, professional and personal social networks, corporate portal, animated reports and so on. These features definitely are worth trying as they not only try to build a community but they also showcase the employee achievement and appreciate them.
We are working on doing a review of the product, but until then, we thought of getting in touch with Siddhesh Bhobe, Chief Architect and Product Manager of eMee. The email interview that we did with Siddhesh is shared below:
1. eMee, redefining employee engagement is a product that really excites us. Siddhesh, we would love to know a bit about you and how have you been associated with eMee?
I was keen on using my experiences during 13 year old long association with Persistent in tackling some of the key HR issues facing the software industry today - need for better employee engagement, attrition control, knowledge management and transparency in performance appraisals and compensation. As Chief Architect and Product Manager for eMee, I am exploring the use of enterprise social networking and gamification in converting mundane but critical management functions into highly effective and enjoyable activities for line managers. I believe this innovative approach can fundamentally change the way companies engage with their employees.
2. What has been the objective and can you list some of the key features that should motivate SMEs and large enterprises to buy it?
We are a “Like Me” generation. Social networks have imbibed in us the need to be constantly appreciated and applauded. We have dozens of choices in our personal life, but things change drastically when it comes to our work environments. Most businesses do not allow social networking for their employees while at work, and of course, they have valid reasons –exposing the corporate Intranet to hacking, bandwidth clogging, and undesired disclosures of information through “Innocent” posts. However, this results in employees feeling disconnected, craving for recognition by managers and more importantly, peers. Today, it is unimaginable that a growing organization with global aspirations will not have a website and an Intranet. A couple of years from now, it will be the same with an Enterprise Social Network.
eMee brings social networking and gaming into your corporate Intranet environment in a safe and secure manner, enabling employees to connect and bond, bring transparency into performance and appraisals, allowing enterprises to discover assets and be more productive, and motivating employees into a high performance work force. All this, while leveraging existing investments in IT and MIS. And eMee’s pay per use pricing model ensures HR gets all the benefits at a fraction of their total employee-centric budgets.
3. The product has features such as Performances reviews, Progress Graphs, etc. Looks good but are they visible to my network. If so then don’t you think it will create unnecessary employee problems?
eMee is completely configurable for role-based access control, allowing organizations to align access to data and workflows within eMee to their HR policies and guidelines. For example, performance notes can be configured in such a way that the gifts are visible to all, but details visible only to direct managers in the hierarchy. Negative performance notes can be visible only to managers. The entire appraisal module and associated reports can similarly be configured to be accessible only to managers. Personal choices can be exposed only to “friends”.
4. Security has always been a debatable issue whenever we have spoken about social networking sites. How have you handled it in eMee?
eMee differs from other social networks in that it is a closed network, ensuring all information is local and restricted to the company’s Intranet. Access control and security is a fundamental cornerstone of the eMee infrastructure, ensuring data is accessible and visible only to authorized entities. All the data belongs solely to the organization, and is not shared or used by eMee in any way for deriving other benefits.
5. Finally, B2B social media engagement is thought to be bit difficult but this will also need companies to create a social media policy too. Do you think every company should have a social media policy and why?
As more and more users get connected to the Internet, they are basing their decisions on products and services offered by searching and comparing online. For employees too, the network will be the primary medium to connect to their company. As I mentioned earlier, it will soon be inconceivable to be a globally aspiring organization without an Enterprise Social Network. The smartphone revolution is hastening the pace to a whole new level. Without a social media policy, companies will flounder and do mistakes which can cost heavily in terms of reputation, customer satisfaction and employee retention. It is imperative for organizations to realize this and get social media savvy as soon as possible!
Thanks Siddhesh for talking to us and sharing your thoughts on eMee. It is no more a need but slowly becoming imperative that businesses accept the fact that being social will allow them to grow. eMee with some of its attractive features does stand a chance to engage employees in real time.
What do you think about such industry specific products that promise to give higher level of engagement by creating communities? Do you think this could be one of the ways of holding employees in future?
P.S. We will be doing a product review of eMee as soon as we are able to get hold of the trial version.