Social media has changed much about the world of work in the last few years. It has implications for the way we recruit, the way we manage internal communication, build our employer brand, even the way that we learn. Internal social media networks are on the rise, as are Social CEOs.

social mediaBut it doesn’t stop there. Social media has profound implications for a subject close to the heart of many HR professionals and business leaders: employee engagement.

Engagement

Whichever definition you adopt, employee engagement is all about the relationship between an organisation and its employees. A brief look through the theory will tell you that individual engagement is influenced by many factors, including engaging leaders, strong organisational narrative and organisational integrity. It’s true to say it’s also about communication, working environment, company culture, and of course, the individual employee experiences that take place every day.

Employee voice

Another key driver of employee engagement is employee voice. Put simply, employee voice is the ability that employees have to put forward their views on the organisation. This voice may be heard through a trade union, an employee engagement survey… or perhaps the employee’s favourite social media platforms. It is inevitable that employees will talk about their work on social media – that’s one of the reasons having a policy on the subject is so important.

On social media, voice works both ways. When employees are engaged, they will be more likely to share your content or talk about you positively – spreading your brand message and promoting your jobs. Research shows that people consistently trust the shares and views of real people over a corporate website. Your employees could be your biggest social advocates – if you encourage them.

Internal social media

More and more organisations are launching internal social media platforms such as Yammer or Workplace by Facebook. When used to their best effect, these networks can help to create the conditions for collaboration. The impact of internal communication on employee engagement should not be underestimated. Social media can help create and share the organisational story, as well as allowing employees to connect outside their immediate teams and departments. Internal social media is all about building relationships.

Social leaders

More and more leaders are beginning to understand the power of social leadership. Social media is a brilliant tool to allow senior managers to put a face to their leadership, talk directly to the people that work for them irrespective of geography and hierarchy, and yes, listen too. Leaders who tweet, share or blog and are present on the same networks as their employees, can be inspiring – and more importantly, support employee engagement.

Top tips

So if you want to get more social at your organisation in order to gain those employee engagement benefits, what can you do?

  • Train your people. Not everyone is familiar with social media or how to get the best out of it. This means you might have to help them understand firstly what’s in it for them, and then help them get the skills they need to get started.
  • Engage your leaders. Sell the benefits to them of using social – and don’t forget that they might need training too!
  • Recruit social media champions. You will have people internally who are advocates of all things social.  Find them and use them.
  • Use social media to listen to what people say and think about your organisation. Check out review sites in particular.  The conversation is already happening – whether you are a part of it or not!
  • And finally….. get social yourself. If you really want to use social media to support your engagement efforts – be the role model!

By HR expert Tim Scott and myhrtoolkit, providing HR software for SMEs.

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