7 Ways to use social media to engage employees

Many large businesses actively discourage their staff from using social media during working hours. This is due to a number of factors: A real and perceived threat of a waste of time. There being no value proposition to the employee being on a social media platform. The company not having a social media goal or strategy in mind. A concern about band width. A concern about staff posting negative content. Good reasons why to invest in social media There are seven ways you can use social media to engage your staff…

1. Effective employee communication

Using internal channels and communication methods, management are able to communicate with staff quickly regardless of where they are located. This effectively means that all relevant employees and branches can receive the same information simultaneously, rather than outlying divisions and lower hierarchical departments perceiving that they are less important because their information filters down over a period of time.

2. Dealing with unsatisfactory posts

Many big companies are concerned that staff might post negative comments about the company or industry on their social media. The issues to consider here are as follows: If a staff member is not happy, they are likely to express that dissatisfaction anywhere, regardless of whether they are online or not. If there is a risk of damage to the brand, it is going to happen anyway. The only problem is that comments made offline can seldom be traced, recorded or in fact even known about by the company. So, damage is done without knowing what has happened. When someone makes any comment about your company online, simple tools like Google Alerts and other media trackers can let you know that your company has been mentioned. You can then drill down to the relevant post, assuming it is public, and see what has been said. If the comment is positive, you can thank or acknowledge the person who has endorsed you. If the comment is negative and inaccurate, you can address the situation and present the correct facts.

The Woolworth SA Facebook page is a good example of a company that now handles customer complaints online. Although there are lots of complaints, the staff handling them are unfailingly polite and responsive and there are still positive posts in between from satisfied customers. Should a company choose to allow staff to post online, and have a proper strategy in place, they would be alerted immediately when one of their staff generate a negative or questionable comment.  It is then the responsibility of management or HR to deal with the individual in question, address the issue that raised the negativity, as well as coach him or her to express their frustration in better ways. Then again, those communication channels should be available already.

3. Be heard!

The HR division should recognise and educate other departments that an employee is not paid by his or her pay cheque alone. Beyond the financial aspects, we work for recognition and reward and that comes to different people in different ways. When staff has done a good job and gone beyond expectations, they should be recognised in a public forum such as on an internal bulletin board or blog.

4. Get feedback

While being heard is about personal or more emotional issues, getting feedback is about updates of a more practical nature in the business. As the business moves or grows, those changes need to be communicated to staff on an ongoing basis. Besides feedback being the breakfast of champions (according to Ken Blanchard), it is also the antidote to being kept in the dark and growing anxiety amongst staff. An anxious work force leads to dissatisfaction, poor performance and high turnover. Simply by providing regular feedback through posts would assure them of what is happening, the time line the company is working on and plans going forward. When staff make suggestions or are part of a project, having feedback on their roles, makes them know that they are still valued and that their contribution is still being counted in the much larger picture.

All of this can be achieved in person of course, but by doing so in a public, or at least an internal and semi-public online forum, means that the means of communication is more efficient, timely and can work across company offices and even countries. Furthermore, there is a record of communication for the enlightenment and encouragement of other staff as well.

5. Reach across hierarchies and break down silos

Two of the typical complaints in larger companies is the inability to communicate with staff from different divisions and an unawareness of what is being done in their divisions, or what projects they are working on.

Social media forums form a social community where staff can communicate online across these departmental boundaries, building trust, engagement and enhancing creativity.

5. Facilitate new hire orientation

Online support for new hires is very valuable. While staff may go through formal orientation procedures and have hand books given to them, it is often the informal structures that eventually provide the information and support that they are looking for.

In a busy office where people are in meetings and deadlines loom, having a place online for support would be a boon for a new employee. Information, both formal and informal, can be accessed from company blog posts and the new employee can connect with new colleagues and begin to recognise the names and positions of people he or she works with.

This level of confidence should not be underestimated when it comes to the ability of the individual to begin to perform at a high level of efficiency and integrate well in the company.

7. Enhance awareness of company brand

Lastly, by encouraging and actively engaging and training staff to use company endorsed social media platforms, the company will encourage them to spread the brand and support the work of the marketing department. Online, each staff member has a wealth of value in terms of access to a database of contacts and influence. By tapping into that and encouraging the dissemination of marketing material online, the social reach will be greatly enhanced and the work of the marketing department made easier!

Beyond that, the staff will feel validated that their worth is not just in the small role that they are employed in, but as ambassadors for their company too. The aim is to have engaged and validated employees who represent their company online.  Social media can play an important role in the workplace and can be a huge benefit when it comes to staff engagement. There are so many avenues to explore with social media that creates new opportunities for human resources experts.

Discover the latest trends in Internal Communication

A primary reason for employees to be more engaged is a sense of clearly communicated direction in order to feel a sense of belonging and responsibility for the growth of the organisation. A successful internal communication strategy can improve employee engagement, increase productivity and assist the organisation in effectively responding to change and crises. Knowledge Resources is presenting the Internal Communication Seminar and Workshop on the 19-20 September 2012 in Johannesburg. By attending this event delegates will be provided with critical insight into the key challenges of internal communications, giving delegates the skills to improve their organisation’s internal communication strategy.

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By Charlotte Kemp is a speaker, trainer and author and a social media strategist who has worked with many HR professionals, as well as other industries, over the past few years.  She has seen the benefit of using social media and coaches businesses on how to implements successful strategies. Charlotte can be contacted on 082 491 9252 or charlotte@nichetraining.co.za.

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2 thoughts on “7 Ways to use social media to engage employees

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