When you mention employees using social media internally, most managers groan. In fact, 42% of employers have opted to ban access to social networking sites from employees’ PCs. Unfortunately this fails because most employees simply use their mobile devices to access social networks. There’s also new research also shows that banning social media kills morale.
Perhaps businesses ban social media because they don’t really understand what it’s about?
Social media is a two way means of communicating; it’s about engaging not broadcasting. It’s one of today’s ‘tools of the trade’ just as we have traditionally used the phone, email, letters, flyers, and face to face networking to stay in touch with prospects, customers, suppliers and partners.
Giving people a voice
One of the main things social media has done is given people a voice to express how they feel about the brands they engage with. If you’re a business that takes pride in delivering excellent customer service it will give you a platform for your customers and advocates to shout about it from the rooftops. After all you can’t beat customer recommendations; they’re much more powerful than selling yourself.
So just as businesses are utilising social media as an efficient and effective way to stay in touch with prospects, customers, suppliers and partners so too can they use internal social media to engage with their employees.
Creating a ‘social business’
A ‘social business’ is an organisation that has embedded collaboration, information sharing and active engagement into its operations and culture. Social businesses use external social media tools – like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube – as well as internal social media that improve communication and collaboration, such as employee social networks, social intranets or other tools that enable colleagues to connect with one-another and share information and achievements.
British Gas Case Study
Take the British Gas Simply Thank You recognition programme for example, British Gas needed to develop a scheme suitable for both office and field based employees. The business also wanted to develop a recognition culture that was inclusive and easily accessible.
They moved to a new, all-inclusive online system that utilises the familiar ‘social network’ style. Employees create an individual profile and are automatically notified via news feeds if their colleagues receive a nomination. It also gives users the option to follow others from across the group, allowing them to grow their colleague network, and even ‘like’ nominations made to others.
It’s low level, everyday recognition that adds up to an appreciative workforce by using similar tools to that they use in their social lives.
The results speak for themselves:
- 50% reduction in the cost of the British Gas recognition programme
- 78% reduction in the cost per nomination
- 76% reduction in the cost per employee involved in the programme
Compared to the previous, paper based, scheme:
- Instant recognition has increased by 324%, from 3,300 nominations per month to over 10,000.
And there’s more…
Internal social media platforms can actually increase workplace productivity: employees who need of a “mental break” can engage with their colleagues instead of faffing around on Facebook or Twitter. Team spirit and collaboration thrive in social businesses where employees are interested in discussions and can add their own thoughts and ideas, and as a result of this social activity employee engagement and productivity increases.
So ditch your personal own hang ups about some of the well-known social media platforms being used today because those of us sitting on the side-lines need to shake ourselves off and think about how we can get involved.
Just as typewriters got replaced by the computer and video got replaced by DVDs, social media is here to stay and it can be good for business.
See how other organisations run their recognition schemes
John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.