Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Connect your retirees to everyone

Greetings again,

I hope everyone is having a great Holiday season thus far. Its been quite hectic for my family as we recently had our car smashed into by a van. All the same, best wishes to all of your families this season from mine.

So, I thought I'd tackle what seems to be a relatively easy concept of the 4 prior bullet points, then make a comment on an article I read about the biggest disappointments in technology for 2007.

So, the bullet:
Connecting retirees to everyone - (Before they leave AND after they are gone and we'll make it worth their while)
Lets break that statement down.

Connect retirees to everyone - simply put, we develop a social network (easy enough to do today) and allow them to connect with whomever they need to connect with. More accurately, as they will be retired or very busy, let others who need to connect with them easily find them and connect to them.

Consequently, this should be a basic corporate tenant. Let your employees connect with one another in anyway they see fit. In addition, provide them the tools with which to do so. For our uses, much of this hinges on the tool we put together in the previous post. Identify, label and track your experts. Then allow stakeholders to follow and engage them.

Facilitating this connection will save time and money for your organization as well as help build your future leaders.

So finally, the last part of that statement: "And we'll make it worth their while". That is mission critical to the success of this system. Tapping the knowledge of retirees after they leave the workforce will become difficult at best. Yes, you'll probably have some small percentage of people who would stay involved for free, however that is the exception, not the rule.

My suggestion would be to set up a reward system(cash or "stuff" preferably) based on the quantity and quality of the information provided by retirees.

You can manage this any way you choose but I'd recommend the following:
  • Pay them for posts that rise in "helpfulness" above a certain threshold.
    • You could determine this via user rating or subjectively via a community manager.
  • Pay them some nominal fee for being "online" or available to answer emails / questions
    • Let them keep their Blackberry for free! pending they answer communications that come to it
    • Push questions their email address (let them keep their corporate one or set up an alumni address (i.e
    • Pay them for being "logged in" to your social network
  • Pay them for blog contributions. Maybe they could be part of a group blog around their prior job function? Pay them for posts and comments.
These are just a few ways to compensate them. They aren't going to expect a full salary and if you make it convenient they can respond via their Blackberry from the 15th green or from the beach.

You will also have to accept that some of your top performers are just going to be done when they retire and want nothing to do with you anymore. No amount of money can bring them back! For this reason, you want a system in place gathering their knowledge prior to them leaving.

Please enhance the above with comments!

Finally, I was asked comment on the 13th point of this article. For the most part, its true. The social media market is HUGE. Guess what? This space will get even more crowded before it starts to consolidate.

Everyone wants a piece of the potentially rewarding pie. I agree that, as in all types of technology, the vast majority will die a .com death but there will be some winners. The most important point was that all we've seen from providers(as far as innovation) is the same old thing over and over. Features like cooler looking widgets and faster/better sheep throwing.

My 2 cents? I think you'll begin to see innovation in the space start to take shape not in the form of "cooler blogs" but in how Web 2.0 tools are applied. Applying the concept of social media, crowd sourcing and collaborative content to real business problems and bring folks together for the common good of their organization.

What we are discussing here is just one of many potential ways, albeit a good one, to apply social media. This isn't going away despite what many deem to be a fad. It is the way the NET Gen will do business and life at least until the next technology wave comes around.

Have a great Holiday!

- Matt