Contributors

Engaging Social Media

Entertain new ways to get your workforce involved.
 

By Madeline Laurano 
 
 
Employee engagement is one of the most powerful tools for improving retention, productivity, and overall performance. It is no longer viewed as an HR initiative. Senior leaders are prioritizing engagement as a key business initiative.
 
 
Despite this collective enthusiasm, the majority of employee engagement programs fall short. In fact, according to Aberdeen’s upcoming Employee Engagement Report, only 42 percent of organizations believe that employees are more engaged after implementing a formal strategy. Why is employee engagement such a challenge for today’s organizations? How can organizations improve engagement levels? In order to drive business results, many organizations need a more innovative approach to engagement—one that fosters greater communication and collaboration between manager and employee. Social media is one way that organizations can achieve this goal. By nature, social media enables greater transparency and builds stronger relationships between employer and employee.
 
 
In the past, organizations have relied heavily on engagement surveys—often anonymous—to both communicate and collaborate with employees. According to Aberdeen’s upcoming report, 70 percent of organizations currently use or plan to use engagement surveys. But while surveys provide a means for collecting information, they do not offer an interactive, long-term approach to engaging employees. Employees are often hesitant to provide honest feedback using surveys for fear of how this information will be perceived and its impact on their future employment. Leading organizations that are looking to better engage employees clearly need a more innovative approach.
 
 
This is where the new emphasis on leveraging social media comes in. Social media has transformed the way organizations identify, develop, and retain talent. It offers greater collaboration, communication, and enhanced branding—all elements that strengthen employee engagement. Organizations are considering three options for social media in engagement: external social networking sites, internal social networking sites, and social media tools as part of an integrated talent management platform.
 
 
• External social networking sites. External sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn offer organizations a better way to connect, collaborate, and share with employees in real-time. These sites can help drive engagement, including recognizing employees’ contributions publicly, highlighting a company event, or showcasing a new hire. Whether the system involves posting tweets for peer recognition, or including company pictures on a Facebook page, employees appreciate being acknowledged on sites that they are actively using. Engagement activities on these sites can also be used to attract talent by giving job candidates an inside look at the company culture.
 
 
• Internal social networking sites. These sites provide a platform for employees to share tools and tips on best practices in the workplace, gain knowledge from subject matter experts, and connect with employees in virtual work environments. Since internal social networks are becoming a major business initiative, organizations leveraging internal social networking sites are better able to align engagement strategies to business priorities. As a result, 66 percent of these organizations are able to link engagement to profitability, either through validated data or through a “gut” feel.
 
 
• Social media tools in talent management. As talent management technology evolves, social tools are now included as part of a talent management suite.
 
 
They are also a key differentiator for any leading provider looking to offer greater employee engagement for customers. According to Aberdeen’s 2012 Human Capital Management Trends Report, 42 percent of best-in-class organizations are investing in social tools as part of their talent management technology, compared to 28 percent of industry average organizations and 19 percent of laggard organizations. These social tools are incredibly easy to use and are frequently free for existing customers. They allow organizations to connect employees, share learning opportunities, and even “follow” employees with critical skills.
 
 
As employee engagement continues to become a priority for organizations, social solutions will likely be a key component of any major talent management technology purchase.

 
Madeline Laurano is Aberdeen Group’s research director for talent acquisition solutions. She can be reached at madeline.laurano@aberdeen.com.

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