Digital Workplaces, HR & Tech, Interviews

Interview: Understanding Employees in a Way Companies Understand Their Customers

About Celine Schillinger, Founder, We Need Social:
“As a global Engagement Influencer, I help leaders and organizations succeed and grow by engaging their clients, partners and employees. This requires new leadership methods, tools and behaviors. Thanks to a rich experience in the corporate world, across Asia, Europe and the Americas, acquired in very large and very small organizations, having driven award-winning engagement innovations in business and industrial environments, I am able to help different types of organizations across industries. In 2017, I was made a Knight of the National Order of Merit by the French government. Check out WeNeedSocial.com for more and meet me on Twitter.”

we.CONECT: What are the biggest challenges in engaging people in a tech-driven world?

Celine Schillinger: People engagement is a difficult art, which tech can both enable and hamper. Well used, tech makes human work easier and better; social technologies make meaningful connections possible at scale. But tech is also a source of division, frustration and fear. Will tech take our jobs? Is there any space of freedom left in our work if each and every step is controlled by machines? What consequence can the divide between the digital literates and the others have on society? Purpose, education, inclusion, value creation, meaningful human collectives powered by tech… your question actually touches a number of our bigger societal challenges. My sense is that many of them relate to leadership. That’s why I focus my work on engagement leadership.

we.CONECT: In your keynote you speak about the importance of understanding employees in a way companies understand their customers. Why is that so crucial?

Celine Schillinger: Employees are the first customers of an organization. They see and feel what it truly is: their life is shaped by their experience at work, from the best to the worst. They act accordingly, passing on this experience to the customers through the quality of the products and services they deliver. Companies that truly care about their customers just can’t escape the need to create the conditions for all their employees – not just a few – to excel individually and together. Engagement is a relational process, not a transactional outcome.

we.CONECT: How does your organisation measure intranet user adoption and what would you suggest to your peers to increase engagement?

Celine Schillinger: 18 months ago, when I left the large company I worked for, the intranet there was far from being social and a clear move towards an enterprise social network was yet to be decided, despite individuals catalysing wonderful communities here and there. I’m sure that IT or Internal Coms were measuring adoption or readership of something, but their KPIs were meaningless in the absence of a systemic & strategic push for social collaboration. Collaboration is a way of relating to one another / of working together, role modelled by leadership. If it’s not there, you can measure anything you want, it won’t make any difference.

we.CONECT: What was the biggest challenge in founding weneedsocial.com and what is the most exciting thing about your job?

Celine Schillinger: During 27 years, I have worked in small and big companies. Never thought I could be an entrepreneur! Then I made the decision to fly on my own… And I’ve had an amazing ride so far. It is truly liberating, because I now work with people who want my help, and I am not subject anymore to politics and the judgement of some mediocre HR bureaucrat or self-inflated, spoilt “leader” lagging 20 years behind re: collaboration. In my new life, the biggest challenge has been – and still is – to know when to stop working. I love my job so much, it is a way of life rather than a job actually. I could do It day and night, every day. If you ask my family, I should work and travel less. As much as I prefer the idea of “lifework” over “work-life balance” (thanks Ayelet Baron) I need to be better at unplugging.

we.CONECT: How do you assess the developments on the market for solutions for employee experience in the next 1-2 years?

Celine Schillinger: I’m excited by the improvement of workplace tech solutions and the development of new ones. Things do really get better with the cloud, video integration, bots, mobile first and so on. They still feel clunky here and there though, and intimidating for the non-digital literates. I am worried by the huge amount of brainpower, time and money spent on the development of new tech versus the attention spent on human engagement, support and community building, leveraging tech. Social collaboration at work is still a new language for many. Tech alone does not solve all human problems – sometimes it makes them worse. We really need to pay more attention to the human side of the future.

Celine Schillinger will hold the opening keynote presentation on event day 2 at the
2020 Intranet Reloaded Berlin!

Join Europe’s flagship event on intranets, internal communication, innovative tools for the happy employees:

27 – 28 April | Berlin, Maritim proArte Hotel, Germany