Social media at the work is a double-edged sword for the human resources department. While it can be used creatively in various scenarios for the benefit of the company, it can also lead to loss of employee productivity if there are no restrictions on its usage. Although social media at workplaces were banned entirely earlier, it has become such an integral part of the employees’ lives that companies have started encouraging its usage for their advantage.
The growing accessibility of the internet with 4G networks and the popularity of smartphones meant that employees can access their favourite social media networks even during working hours. With the growing mobile internet users comprising 54.8% of all internet users worldwide in the first quarter of 2021, it is sure that social media popularity is only going to rise.
Benefits of using social media at the workplace
Now that we know that it is a necessary evil, let us take a look at some arguments to understand the importance of social media at workplaces and businesses:
- Simplifies open communication and helps in information sharing
- Allows employees to collaborate on ideas, solve doubts and share knowledge
- Promotes employer recognition with targeted campaigns
- Encourages employee engagement by posting their achievements, rewards, etc.
- Provides an opportunity to broaden the company’s business contacts
- Becomes an ideal recruitment tool since it comprises a wide variety of individuals
- Improves brand recognition and business reputation with minimal efforts
- Helps to showcase the environment-friendly activities that the company is involved with
- Promotes diversity and inclusion as it is a global tool
- Helps in advertising your expertise and authority over your domain
- Expands the company’s market reach with lesser financial investment
- Helps demonstrate the non-profit activities that the company is associated with.
Tips to use social media at work to your advantage
As we have seen, social media can be an effective tool in all aspects of the business. Hence, let us take a look at the individual areas of your company where it can be effectually used as an asset:
Over 70% of hiring managers have successfully used social media technology to post jobs and hire candidates. Additionally, 89% of companies understand the importance of social media at workplace and plan on using it actively in their recruiting efforts. These statistics definitely point to the ever-increasing relevance of social media in recruitment. Still not convinced? 80% of employers say that social media technology hiring has helped them find passive candidates and actively target them.
All of these statistics point to just one thing: social media is an excellent potent hiring tool and any company wishing to recruit candidates efficiently should make use of it diligently. It can be used for multiple stages of recruitment such as mining talent, posting a job opening, contacting passive candidates, etc. With the rising popularity of smartphones, there are new apps that are designed for smartphones and tablets which can be used by the recruiters to search and parse candidate’s details from their social media profiles and create a talent pool.
Improved Employee Engagement
The employees would be more engaged if they recognize that their opinions are being valued and they are being updated on the latest developments. Social media is the best option to share these updates while also letting them know about how their feedbacks are helping better the company. In fact, Facebook has a platform known as ‘Workplace from Facebook’ which is a dedicated communication tool designed to keep in touch with colleagues.
Similarly, most companies today utilize either Facebook or LinkedIn to share new company updates with their employees, which they can also react to, in real-time. The employers can also share videos and blogs on their website, related to their initiatives via social media, which helps in gaining employee and customer engagement.
Superior Learning and Development
Another major facet of social media impact is the changes in learning and development programs. As these programs are more targeted towards the social media consuming millennials, it helps them effectively collaborate and learn together. Social media technology can also be effective even before the actual training begins by helping in understanding where the employee stands with surveys as well as after the training with knowledge retention cards and quizzes.
Moreover, learning can be interactive with modern social media tools. The employees undergoing training can be engaged effectually with videos, vector animations, and interactive games. Some platforms further help in the training by letting the employees take it at their leisure. This encourages a sentimentality of understanding the concept instead of just getting through the training for the sake of it.
Social media is all about being ‘social’. Hence, it provides excellent opportunities to collaborate with your teammates. Platforms such as Trello actively encourage this kind of mindset which is evident from their website: ‘It’s more than work. It’s a way of working together.’ Other Kanban-style tools also encourage this kind of collaborative working which is also fun to do.
These social media platforms also provide the option to harness the internal talent of the company by encouraging everyone to participate and be a part of creating something as a team, even if that is not their primary field of work. For example, brainstorming sessions for new marketing plans can include inputs from everyone including the accounts team, the software development team, etc.
Microblogging is the best way to share small information snippets. The best example of a microblogging social media website is Twitter. However, other sites like Salesforce Chatter or Microsoft Yammer are also good options, which can be used as an internal social media as they can be accessed via internal networks which ensures that the files and information shared are secure inside the internal network.
The employees can also share their feedback via comments on all of these platforms. Moreover, the option to share images, audio, videos, documents, presentations, etc. is an additional feature of these microblogging social media sites. All of these features prove useful in the daily working of any kind of company and helps in employee engagement and productivity.
Collaborative Expert Directories
It is a well-known fact that social media is an efficient tool for sharing anything. The same remains true in cases of sharing knowledge. Collaborative expert directories are a must-have component for any social media technology used in the workplace. These directories include the collective categorized information on various relevant topics which are required for the daily working of the company.
It is important in this digital age to have a repository of internal knowledge which are collected from the individual contributors and the subject matter experts. Social media tools such as Ning provide you with the packages required to create such kind of expert directory-based social media networks. The companies can use these to create and maintain expert directories which will prove beneficial to all the employees in the office and enhance their productivity further.
Internal Community Forums
Since social media is all about the content created by the communities, companies can also harness the same by developing and maintaining forums. The members in these forums will help each other to overcome any difficulties encountered in their daily work and exchange ideas for the betterment of the company. A good example of this concept is Accenture, which has created ‘Knowledge Exchange (KX)’, which is a platform for exchanging ideas, concepts, and knowledge.
Such internal community forums ultimately help both the employees and the employers and hence, is the perfect example of ‘People Power’. The employees can learn new things as well as share their ideas, while the organization can implement any good idea shared by their employees to create a better office for everyone.
Better External Communications
Social media can be used effectively to promote oneself as a brand. For a company, it is extremely important to maintain an online reputation to be visible in front of their prospective clients and customers.
One can observe that all major companies have social media presence on all major social media platforms and that is to remain relevant in front of their audience. These platforms provide them with all the required tools to share interesting ideas, products developments with everyone and create hype around them, thereby increasing their engagement and business.
The bottom line is that social media is an important part of office life nowadays and its importance and relevance will only keep increasing. Hence, it is better to embrace it instead of policing your employees against its usage. While it is good to craft guidelines for responsible social media usage during business hours, it is also important to ensure that your employees understand your reasoning behind letting them use it. This will result in a healthy compromise as you will lose a bit of employee productivity while gaining the trust of your engaged employees.
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