Trust Employees to Use Social Media Sites at Work

By Aliah D. Wright Jun 17, 2013

CHICAGO--Rather than blocking employees from using social networking sites, employers should encourage usage of both external and internal social networking sites to foster collaboration and boost employee engagement, according to David Miller, a senior consultant with Chicago-based performance improvement company Avatar Solutions. Miller explained how organizations can do this during his Monday session, “As the Social Media World Turns: Strategies for Engaging Employees Through Social Media,” at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition.

Companies should create a social media strategy, craft a social media policy, train employees on that policy, give employees the ability to access social sites and build internal social networking sites to foster engagement, according to Miller.

Allowing use of social networking sites at work is “a great way to build trust,” he said. Social media usage can break down silos, build community, and allow for crowdsourcing and idea generation.

Using a series of case studies, Miller highlighted the benefits of social media engagement.

For example, to quell high turnover in its call centers, Outlook Amusements, a technology and marketing company, created an internal social networking site called “The Owls Nest,” where employees create profiles and interact. “They do a poll of the day, and HR poses questions. Usage of the site gives HR an opportunity to gauge engagement levels, and it really creates a lot of excitement and strengthens that sense of community,” he said.

Sabre Holdings has “Sabre Town,” an internal social networking site where 90 percent of Sabre’s 10,000 employees have profiles that include their hobbies and interests. The company believes that the site has helped employees get to know one another better and has strengthened communication and collaboration.

Here are some ways companies can make social media work:

Create a company blog, “but make sure one person manages the blog so you know someone will respond to comments,” Miller said.

Use it to share company news.

Encourage senior leaders to send letters to employees through the internal network.

Use external social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well. Miller said companies can create their own private Pinterest pages “where employees can pin funny memes, favorite recipes or pictures from vacations. It allows the company to build a forum for employees to share ideas and best practices across locations,” he said.

“Start a corporate Flickr account and encourage employees to share photos of where they are across the globe,” he said. “It’s a way to allow employees to interact and engage and really build that sense of community.”

After all, Miller said, “social media isn’t going anywhere.”

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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