How To Keep Your (Global, Local, Millennial, Gen-X) Workforce Engaged

Maggie Chan Jones

07 Apr 2013, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada --- Group of entrepreneurs working on project in creative office space --- Image by © Hero Images/Hero Images/CorbisLast week, I attended the CMO Summit in Mexico City and spoke to a room of CMOs. One of the things that resonated most was the drastic shift in the global workforce by 2020. At the global level, 83% of HR executives in the Workforce 2020 study said they will be increasing the use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees. But only 34% feel they’ve made progress building a workforce that can meet future business goals.

There are new and big challenges coming our way for the workforce of the future. It’s not just Mexico, but all countries are challenged by the future of work in the digital economy.  The good news is that we know some the trends that are coming and we can prepare for them.

I spend a lot of time with senior executives every day. But if I wasn’t spending time with people across the organization, like Mario in Mexico or our team in New York, I’d be out of touch. Interns are the next generation of leaders, and current leaders have a responsibility to nurture their potential.

Truthfully, it can be difficult to connect all the dots of employee engagement. Our SAP marketing team consists of employees across six continents and five generations. The one question I ask myself every day is:

How do we keep our global, diverse workforce engaged and connected?

I don’t have all of the answers. We try some things that work, others that don’t. Here are a few things that work for us:

‘Maggie Minutes’

I’ve written about how we use internal social media to stay connected. I started my own internal web series on SAP Jam called ‘Maggie Minutes,’ which are video clips I film all over the world featuring employees and leaders from across the business. Compared to a traditional blog, these videos are more engaging and let our special guests shine. Leaders, though, should have plenty of tools in their communications toolbox, such as blogs, tweets, and e-mail.

‘Open Mic’

My team and I also developed a new kind of town hall meeting called ‘Open Mic.’ We use an online platform and phone line to connect employees all over the world. There’s no agenda, no slides, no talking points. Just open dialogue about what is top-of-mind for everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to speak. 96% of our team who took the feedback survey said its worth doing again.

Face to face

In 2015, businesses are fortunate to have technology at their fingertips to connect with their people at an instant. But in this digital age, let’s not forget about the best ways to build relationships: over a cup of coffee, at lunch, or on a walk. Whenever I travel, I make sure to add to my agenda plenty of face time with people from my team and other parts of the company. It is the best way to get to know someone. And you can create a lasting impression in an instant.

I’m interested to read what you are doing with your teams to make collaboration and engagement a reality in the digital economy.  SAP just published some research on how to help employees flourish in the digital economy that shares some fantastic insights on this topic. Check it out: Engaged Employees Are Your Business.

Maggie Chan Jones

About Maggie Chan Jones

Maggie Chan Jones is CMO of SAP, responsible for leading SAP’s global advertising and brand experience, customer audience marketing, and field and partner marketing functions across all markets. Her mission is to bring to life SAP’s vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives through storytelling, and to accelerate company growth. A career-marketer in the technology industry, Maggie has held a succession of roles at Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and other technology companies.