Carmen (Shirkey) Collins, Social Media Lead, Talent Brand, Cisco

Carmen CollinsCarmen Shirkey Collins received the Stevie’s 2017 Communicator of the Year Award and was named to the 2017 Top Women in PR list, as well as named the 2016 Social Media Professional of the Year by PRNews for her work as the Social Media Lead for Cisco’s Talent Brand team. She manages the award-winning @WeAreCisco social media team and the strategy of creating personal connections with current and future talent by harnessing the employee voice.
You can find her @cshirkeycollins on Twitter and Instagram, and follow her blog posts on her Website,

What does employee engagement mean to you?

For our @WeAreCisco team, employee engagement means that we’re encouraging and enabling employees to share what it’s like to work at Cisco in their own social media networks. We engage with them when they use #WeAreCisco as the hashtag, and ask them to send us original photos with more info about that photo. What they don’t know is that they often have a story to tell, and when they reply, we see that story. We find the right way (maybe it’s an Instagram Story, maybe a blog) to tell their stories to the world. Because if employees say we’re a great place to work on their own, they are trusted WAY more than if a brand says it. Our WeAreCisco channels are amplifying their voices.

How to measure employee engagement?

This is different for different teams. For example, internal employee communications will measure different things than my team, which is focused on telling employee stories to retain and attract talent. We measure our share of voice in social, the reach we get, how much engagement (preferably the engagement RATE) we get on each social channel, how many people are clicking to visit our website, how many people actually go through the process and apply, etc.

What are the common causes of employee disengagement?

When employees feel like they understand the WHY of what we’re asking of them, and they are given the trust to carry out that ask in their own way, we find far more value.

What are the drivers of employee engagement in today’s fast-moving world?

For our remit, we find that employees like to share the “moments that matter” to them. They don’t want to be Cisco commercials, or all Cisco all the time. Their social accounts are THEIRS, and when they share the moments, they have a much more authentic voice. We help amplify these stories through WeAreCisco to present their stories to a new audience outside of their networks, but their networks are the most valuable.

What makes a really effective employee engagement programme? Any best practices to share.

Best practices we’ve found

1. Treat them like VIPs, because they are.

2. Share metrics with them, let them know that there’s a benefit to the company if they do this

3. Don’t ask them to be robot sharers. Encourage them to be THEM.

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