Do you remember the old water cooler? How about the ciggy break? And the kitchen-coffee conversation that lasted 10mins? And recently the reading of the paper online whilst you had your breakfast at your desk?
Ever since the dawn of time, well, the dawn of office culture, politics, teams and organisations people have always taken a few minutes of their working time here and there to catch up on their social activities.
Let’s face it, we are social creatures. We love to interact, understand, question and collaborate. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s what gives us variety and makes us stand out from the rest of the mammalian herds.
As time has rolled on, nothing has changed. Well things slightly have. Technology has. We still have those conversations, but now we are doing them digitally. We use our smartphones and tablets. We use our social networks and blogs. The infrastructure has shifted, the human aspect has not.
Recently I was featured in a Sydney Morning Herald article about employees using social networks whilst at work. A few topics were raised in the article as to what employers could do when it comes to Social Media and their employees during working hours.
Lots of employers resent the fact that their employees are spending time not working. A common concern I hear in my Social Media Training classes from C-Level and Executive Level members is that this new technology is driving unproductive, unmotivated and disengaged staff.
My response, always the same: Give them the tools, and this will work for you.
Here are 6 ways that Employers could utilise Social Media tools, behaviours and platforms to their own advantage with their staff:
Build a Wiki and Crowdsource Ideas
We’re all familiar with the brainstorming concept. But taking this concept and making it digital can be a powerful tool for employees. The solution is simple. Take the concept of Wikipedia, and build a platform where all documentation are added, edited and peer reviewed by the crowd – the employees. Staff members will flock towards their topics of interest, and contribute to what they are truly enthusiastic about.
But why stop there? Ideas are the true driver in business behind innovation, creation and possible success. Look at the Google Employment Model as a prime example. By building a wiki, employees can submit their ideas (replacing the tired ‘suggestion box’) and have other employees peer-review the idea. Soon a culture of peer-editing on the ideas and ironing out all the crinkles can occur. If a user-generated rating system is then also implemented, employers can wait for the top ranking ideas, pick the low hanging fruit and implement these ideas.
Build an Internal Social Network; create a Social Media Policy
In the absence of allowing employees to access their social media platforms, employers should at the very least build the framework for an internal social network. Employees should then create their own profiles, upload their own images, links and content into the site. Employers should crowdsource from employees to build a mutual Social Media policy for this internal social network. Then let the employees organically grow the network, self-police and utilise the power of communication within the network (e.g. File sharing, Link Sharing, Instant Messenger etc.)This will not only reduce the volume of email communication internally, but indirectly reduce the volume of printed material and increase turnaround times as emails tend to get left behind in email inboxes.
Foster a Mobile Web Environment
Most of the staff in any organisation will own a smartphone with a large portion also owning a tablet. Employees should use these tools to build their own gatherings within the organisation to contribute towards a common goal. Employees could hold a session about job appreciation in their department over lunch time. Employees could participate in a social gaming session as a de-stress. Employees could contribute towards the building of an app for the company. All these ideas involve the usage of smartphones and tablets, and help foster a mobile web friendly environment.
On top of this, events, training sessions, conferences etc. can all utilise the rapidly booming geo-location and check-in features to help spread to their external networks that they are participating in Employer events, promoting the organisation as a well-regarded place to work for.
Post a blog about your company, become a subject matter expert
Each employee contributes their part to the organisation. Each employee is a potential subject matter expert in their field. Thus, each employee should be able to write their own blog and distribute towards an internal / external network. This allows employees to step up and shine in what they do best, helps build their profile within the company and also by posting to external networks this increases the employee’s chances of being recognised for their work in the organisation when applying for jobs externally, as recruiters now search social media platforms for any information about candidates.
By creating an ongoing blog, employees contribute towards their portfolio and CV both internally and externally.
Employees now utilise of different media to communicate their message. Mediums such as photo sharing, video sharing, linked sharing and blog sharing is an approach that employees can collectively take to build up an organisations profile. As employees use smartphones they can create real-time content for an organisation wanting to capture a range of different media. Organisations will be required to build the platform or use existing platforms, like Flickr, YouTube or Tumblr to allow this organic collaboration of work to thrive and grow. Once again, a review and moderation process will be required but this can be built within the employee crowd sourced Social Media policy.
In conclusion, employers need not fear the usage of Social Media in their workplaces. Remember, staff are people and people are social creatures. Why stand in the way of blocking all this social interaction, when every organisation can use it to its advantage. Build the Social tools they need, and watch employees continue to socialise, only this time, whilst still completing their work.
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