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This is a really interesting topic to me, and one I have done some research on from the perspective of what are the incentives and barriers to employee participation and contribution in internal communities. Some of the research that I have seen indicates 'soft' or non-cash type rewards like recognition of expertise, and 'status' as an internal expert actually are more of a motivator to increase employee participation in a knowledge community. I think there is still lots of work to be done in this area, as more companies want to use these tools, they will need effective ways to incent and reward employees.


I'd love to see some of that research. My thoughts would parallel your findings, that 'soft' or non-cash type rewards are best for directly incenting and recognizing the demonstration and use of this expertise, with cash rewards best reserved for the overall group performance outcomes that these activities help make happen.

Topic for a follow-on post, perhaps.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience here!

I agree with Steve's take. It seems that for now, until social network adoption becomes more prevalent and the norm, employers will have more success in getting greater participation through a combination of demonstrating trust (in that employees will feel "safe" using the tools and won't be taken advantage of because they shared their knowledge) and sharing success stories of people helping each other get things done through social networks (including recognition/kudos for the folks who contributed.) Once adoption has become the norm, or of course if the role specifically calls for it, or if the shared values of the company are simply strong enough w.r.t. social network use, then it would seem to make sense to include it in desired skills or behaviors.


I appreciate both you and Steve weighing in. Your advice about focusing more on encouraging participation and showcasing the success stories as initial steps make sense to me. As the Deloite research suggests, most companies are still trying to find their way here.

Thanks for the thoughts and great discussion!

Great article and I love seeing others openly exploring knowledge management as a competitive tool for organizations and development opportunity for individuals.

Thanks for the comment, Brad!

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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