January 13, 2015

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“HCL MEME”- Of the Employees, by the Employees, for the Employees

One of the latest trends that has caught the world’s attention and caused an unprecedented transformation in all walks of life is Social Media. This has helped change Governments, rally movements that resulted in the ending of dictatorships in various countries, spark public outrage on several human rights and other issues in India, and much more. In lieu of all this, it would be preposterous for Human Resource professionals to even think of ignoring this remarkable social trend emerging for the very first time in history, which has mobilized human capital on such an unprecedented scale.

HCL is a pioneer of modern computing, and is known for its disruptive Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS) business philosophy that frames the tenor in boardrooms globally. Our adept leaders and some social media evangelists at HCL got together to see how to develop a radical B2E (Business 2 Employees) messaging platform - akin to the B2C (Business 2 Customer) platforms after studying B2C experiments from the likes of Zappos and SWA who had phenomenal success on Facebook.

Social media is a rostrum for Gen Y to digitally express themselves, but we soon realized that it was not viable for us to use platforms like Facebook as we need to respect the privacy of our customer contracts. We thus challenged our young employees to build a technological framework to realize the B2E idea, and that’s how ‘MEME’ took its first shape on the drawing board.

Our prime challenge was to develop MEME’s goals and define a plan mapping it to our company’s goals. EFCS came to the rescue again, which is the biggest testament that real business value is created in the interactions rather than in the process. Jobs involving the most complex types of interactions such as analyzing information, grappling with ambiguity, and solving problems, make up the fastest-growing segment. We wanted MEME to be able to manage all four generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z) at the workplace in order to yield the best results. MEME was to encourage both “personal” and “professional” sharing within the protected walls of our company’s intranet. This internal social networking platform would build stronger bonds amongst employees and enable them to reach out to one another across industries and geographies. The main motivations were to get connected at a personal level with co-workers, while advancing their careers within the company. The overall objective was predominately to engage, learn and circulate information and best practices across the company, while providing feedback on important personal and business issues, which would provide the pulse of the company.

While we had some clarity on the road ahead, we were still clueless as to how to evolve MEME. We realized that the employees themselves would be the best inventors of this new platform, as they understood best what they expected from it. A fundamental framework was built and floated around for employees to use. It was perfected with the feedback we received. Gen Y dominated the development team but the challenge was to get top management buy in especially keeping security and confidentiality in mind.  We believed that employees were astute enough on these issues as they’ve been trained through company programs on such concerns. Finally, MEME got the nod from top management with a condition that at least 10% of the population must show interest in using it and creating communities within 3 months, or it would be shut down.

On March 14, 2011 HCL launched MEME to all its employees with a message to “Connect, Share, Learn and Grow”. On April 6, 2011, 25,000 HCLites became MEMErs. They took sharing and collaboration to the next level with 521 groups, 4300 posts, 1030 albums; groups like BLOGHER took women connect to unprecedented heights with 83 blogs within a month.

In just 4 months, we reached the 30,000 mark, with groups like MADJAM (Make a Difference) taking the lead, where HCLites across the board submitted 930 business innovation ideas which could create monetary gains for their respective projects/domains. HCL employees voted on MEME and 7 ideas were shortlisted; 1 was declared the winner, chosen by an eminent jury of business leader’s within the company. We leveraged MEME for our EPIC survey (the work passion index) where 10,252 employees participated, with a 100% jump in participation in the U.S. and Mexico.  The EPIC portal recorded 1,34,745 total hits in a month. Other programs with tremendous success were the EFC (Employees First Council) election where 20,000 HCLites voted across India for 5,891 self-nominated HCLites who would run these councils. MEME escalated the fun@work quotient and gradually became the one stop solution for all employee engagement programs.

The latest numbers from MEME

MEME’s differentiators are found in applications like, “people finder” and the organizational social service desk . The “Ask HR” tab has triggered the biggest revolution with over 2500 HR queries, which are being resolved in a public forum.

Employees have the ability to freely comment on policies and generate discussions around them. It has cut down the bureaucracy of escalating comments/feedback to the policy makers, helping the company quickly fine-tune its policies for better employee satisfaction. The fairytale journey which we commenced through “Connect, Share, Learn and Grow” has now evolved into the “super-empowerment” of “I” through MEME for collaborative learning, innovation, retention, and growth. We now have a new tag line:  “MEME - Decoding Individuality”.

Our involvement with this social platform continues to grow each passing day, and HCL, true to form, is developing “technology that touches lives”.