The Barrier to Organisational Change is Employee Engagement

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The key to Employee Engagement is Digital Hives.

I’ve just digested a great post by the “Insights” team at McKinsey, called “Digital hives: Creating a surge around change”. And I’d recommend anyone holding accountability for key business change strategies within their organisation to take on board the insights offered.  The piece highlights and comments on the ideas and latest thinking from specific Case Studies – showing how organisations are using online / social communities to establish and maintain high levels of employee engagement to spark and manage the change process.

Without stating the obvious, employee engagement is a key business success factor of every Tier 1 company – no matter the vertical market or environmental conditions in which it operates.  As in life, some organisations (like people) have a natural gift for engagement – and others don’t. So as I read the article I started to visualise how HR & Talent Management might be related to the creation of any of the digital (social community) based hives from the examples given.

Digital hives might not work in every case but there’s certainly scope where they might be applied inside ‘our map of the world’ within HR & Talent Management.  However, as the original article states, this can only be achieved by serious C-level buy-in – otherwise the considerable investment in the latest enterprise-wide social platforms needed to build your hive strategy could easily end up as ‘expensive idiocy’.


Our research consistently shows that without substantial involvement by the CEO or other top leaders, the vast majority of such initiatives fail to achieve their objectives. What’s more, change programs that involve large numbers of people are up to two times more successful than those that do not.

From the referenced article

Think, for a moment, about the connecting and overlapping strategies (and sub-divided projects) being worked on by HR and Talent Management in the pursuit of successful outcomes – outcomes that are the responsibility and accountability of HR and Talent Management. The question to you is: how best to set the measurable deliverables and outcomes that bring tangible and sustainable benefits to your organisation?  

We all know that change in business is an economic and technological certainty – and business leaders apply many overlaying strategies to obtain business advantage over the competition, based on a need to forge ever-growing profitability within the live situations they experience at the time.  If we apply these norms to the business strategies specific to HR and Talent Management, let’s look at the digital hive thinking from the article and how it could be applied to corporate talent management strategies.

In that context, the McKinsey insights offer a valuable guide in how Talent Strategies can achieve high degrees of employee engagement.

Connecting Silos to the Value Chain

 One of the biggest organizational challenges is to break siloed behaviour and get employees talking to one another and cooperating across intracompany boundaries.

From the referenced article

Apply this to TA for a second and it’s clear where it could offer some benefit: just think of the many articles we read about talent referral strategies, which is just one example of a silo that needs connecting to the hiring Value Chain.

There’s no denying that digital based solutions require a high-impact technology element. Its success or failure, however, is 100% reliant on buy-in, motivation and engagement of those asked to be part of the referral community being created.  Lose the interest of this community and your technology investment will be worthless.

McKinsey describe the creation of a ‘social-chain’ – a digital platform that links everyone working in a particular value chain inside a company.  Key to the success of this social-chain process (when applied to talent referral) is to make sure the right people (employees) are chosen as advocates and that the right technology is selected.  By ‘right’ we mean technology that’s aligned to the way digital-age employees use it, allied to processes that make any tasks running on this platform easy to complete and fun to do.

Building your Talent Referral Community around the strategies of the Digital Hive might just deliver the outcomes you want – ‘simply’ because your employees will be engaged and want to take part.

A new Mind-Set – Leading While Letting Go

Developing your Social Media-influenced business strategies using digital hive thinking is a way forward.  The first step in this journey of change is to make sure you have the mind-set for it!

Social media is an interconnecting influence in everyone’s private lives and whether C-level likes it or not, their workforce is made up from a continuously growing group of digital-natives and other generational ‘digital power-users’.  Digital is part of their everyday existence, so failing to consider how current working processes and operating restrictions impact on an employee’s digital ‘unconscious competence’ due to ‘The Leadership’s’ fear of change, will take you down a dangerous road.

Developing your digital hive strategy will inevitably require the opening up or changing of old and unworkable processes and communication practices.  Key to this is striking the ‘right balance’ that allows the community to not only engage but to actively help develop the actual methodology and tools – within the organisational parameters, of course.

Leaders who can do this and act on the results are indeed ‘leading by letting go’.


McKinsey’s article has offered some valuable pointers on what can be achieved when applying a digital-hive approach. We can certainly see many scenarios inside HR & Talent Management where this thinking can be applied – just make sure your C-suite us leading from the front before you start.


Resource Central is a unique people engagement and resourcing solutions service firm. Created from the focus and desire of its founders. We are all experts from the Job Board, HR Communications and Recruiting industry, bringing a wealth of expertise and knowledge of specialist and large corporate campaign hiring projects across the recruiting markets of Europe.

Client Services Director @ Resource Central Ltd
As part of our team I help companies develop, build, implement and manage people engagement and experiences that deliver ‘ real value’ across the Talent and HR business needs of Talent Attraction, Talent Acquisition, Talent Engagement, Talent Community Retention and Employer Value.

Please Like & Share

Client Services Director @ Resource Central Ltd
As part of our team I help companies develop, build, implement and manage people engagement and experiences that deliver ‘ real value’ across the Talent and HR business needs of Talent Attraction, Talent Acquisition, Talent Engagement, Talent Community Retention and Employer Value.