How many times have you heard “employees are our most valuable asset” or even “employees are the heart of our business”?

I have heard these sentiments so often, and from such unlikely companies, that I was beginning to think all organisations just say or write them to entice potential recruits.  I changed my mind a couple of months ago, after a CIO got in touch about a real need to understand his organisation’s employees.

The company was planning new investments in technology and applications, and our client wanted to make sure the decisions being made were the right ones.  Specifically, he wanted to know what the employees needed to do their jobs, why they weren’t using the tools they already had, and what might help them be more efficient and effective.  In essence, he wanted to review what requirements the employees had before approving new investments. 

This organisation really did see employees as a valuable asset, and this is exactly what our business to employee (B2E) listening approach is about.  It takes the B2C approach one step further and looks at the internal customer – the employee – and at all the interactions and touch points between the employee and business.

B2E listening is an employee-centric information gathering approach that can be used to improve and inform decision making.  Properly applied, B2E listening can turn employees into advocates for the organisation; in the same way as business to consumer (B2C) through customer relationship management (CRM) can turn consumers into advocates.  Having employees as advocates can be valuable through the recruitment process, they can help manage retention and gain buy-in for large scale organisational changes, to name just a few opportunities.

Our B2E concept begins by looking at the interactions and touch points an employee has with the organisation.  Some of these will be specific to a function or problem statement like the one above, others organisation wide, such as internal communications (or lack of them).

We then deploy “listening posts”, which can range from instant shop-floor opinion polls to social media analysis.  They all help us to understand what employees are thinking, feeling and seeing.

We use what we discover to populate an analytical tool called the “flower”, which uses colour-coded hotspots to summarise interactions.  The flower acts as a dashboard, allowing the decision maker to see problem interaction areas instantly.  We follow up our analysis by recommending practical solutions to correct any negative aspects of B2E interaction that are revealed by the hotspots.

Employees really are at the heart of a business.  They have to use the services, systems and processes that are in place. Ultimately, they hold the information and insight to lead the organisation to make better decisions and investments.

B2E listening can give you employees that are genuine advocates for your business.  Isn’t that what we all want?  It certainly sounds good to me!