Beedie School of Business – Building an engaged and innovative workplace

Beedie School of Business – How to build an engaged and innovative workplace
Feature writer: Jen Schaeffers, Founder

Professional development is so important to me. I love to keep learning, growing and developing. I think somewhere down the line I would love to do an MBA and when that day comes, I'll pick the SFU Beedie School of Business.

I had the pleasure of attending a course offered by the school this week – entitled “Building an engaged and innovative workplace: twitter and beyond”. It was widely attended by a variety of industries and run at the beautiful SFU Segal Graduate School.  The thing I love about the Beedie School of Business is the quality of instructors they source for courses, seminars, conferences etc. This course was no exception. Widely regarded on his blog “brave new org“, Dan Pontefract is a connected leader. His new book “Flat Army” (creating a connected & engaged organization) comes out in April 2013 and the hype is already building. Dan speaks on topics such as leadership, engagement, social learning and collaboration and is currently the Senior Director of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS.

Jan Kietzmann, Assistant Professor at the Beedie School of Business complemented Dan's corporate experience with the more academia side of social media and gamification. I highly recommend his publication: “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media

So what did I learn, and what did you miss?

Well, the topic that was most covered was engagement in the workplace and how social media can aid in this. Research shows that by and large, employees are pretty dis-engaged and apathetic in Canada. We rank pretty sadly in world research on engagement at work.  AON Hewitt “Trends in Global Employee Engagement” shows a little bit more of a pretty picture with 2011 North American employee engagement at around 56%. However, other survey's show Canada being as low as 35% in employee engagement. ACK! That many people are going to work and aren't engaged??? This seems like a problem.

Dan was able to share with us that TELUS latest survey results on employee engagement were 78% – a considerable difference in the national average.

HOW? And WHY? What are TELUS doing that is yielding them such great results, such “engaged” staff? The answer is – a lot of things, and nothing I write on this blog will probably do it justice. However, they are using social media and technology in a way that many other corporations could only dream of. Remember, they have 40,000 employees across Canada, and they are spread out from corporate offices, to in the field, stores, working from home…not the easiest thing to do.

TELUS decided they wanted to take on a leadership change challenge. How could they engage their staff better, create more leaders, and collaborate more. They took on the metaphor of Canada Geese. Now if you don't know, Canada Geese fly in a V-formation and they share the leadership position at the front, rotated amongst the birds while flying. Pretty cool for a massive corporation like TELUS to use this as their metaphor for change.

They created and use sharing platforms internally that connect their 40,000 staff online. This is the whole next generation of the “intranet”. Think facebook and twitter but all custom built for TELUS, with the purpose of connecting staff and solving customer issues. Each staff member have their own profile online so you can look someone up in Vancouver or New Brunswick and find out more about them – what line of work they are in for TELUS, perhaps a personal blog they have, their interests and what they specialize in so you can use them as a resource for a variety of purposes. Dan walked us through some of these platforms and most of the room were blown away. The future certainly is friendly!

TELUS also has a virtual learning platform, somewhat similar to Second Life – in which you can attend courses, meet up with other staff on the other side of the country and even party. Yep they host virtual parties on this platform. You have to see it to believe it!

Since these types of social media platforms have launched, employee engagement survey results are climbing, staff seem to have greater access to leadership and are finding ways to get further involved in the company they work for.

I found the course to be incredibly beneficial, as we all came away with ideas we could use to try and implement in our own workplaces about how to improve upon engagement, innovation and collaboration.

To find out more about the SFU Beedie School of Business, click here. 


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