A colleague has asked me for advice on encouraging employees to leave comments on discussion threads attached to articles on their company intranet.
As my colleague points out,
I haven’t done a hard sell yet as I wanted to build up a number of stories with the discussion threads on them, but so far I’m not getting any take-up from employees. At all. This could be due to a lack of familiarity with this sort of communication technology (whereas I’m used to looking at blogs and message boards all the time) or a culture where people are reluctant to stick their head above the parapet and contribute their thoughts – and put their name to them.
Encouraging employees to leave comments is a HUGE uphill battle, as it entails changing behaviours and expectations. As my colleague quite rightly points out, if folks are scared of putting their heads over the parapets then getting them to do anything another than comment anonymously, or sycophantically, is going to be hard.
Competitions are always a useful standby, as is repeated assurances that contrary views are respected, welcome and encouraged as long as they remain on-topic and courteous.
But the communication culture of the company is one of the biggest drivers of non-engagement. If the culture is one where top management don’t encourage open and honest two-way dialog with employees then encouraging said employees to open themselves up to possible adverse effects is going to be a hard sell.
So I put the issue out to my colleagues and readers here: how would you encourage comments?
If there are any resources online you can point to about selling the benefits of discussion threads/blogs to employees who are unfamiliar with them, my colleague (and I) would be most grateful.