Working Socially


Published on

Published in: Recruiting & HR, Career

Working Socially

  1. 1. working socially Nine ways to set the agenda and leverage social media in the workplace todd wheatland and david fenech
  2. 2. 24% % who think it’s acceptable to use social media to communicate with friends/colleagues about work 43% % who say social media has affected their productivity at work 30% % who use social media in their job searching more than newspapers or online job boards 35% % who communicate by smart phone, worldwide 47% % who worry that use of social media at work, for personal reasons, will lead to problems % of companies who use social media to recruit, depending on the region 75-90% We surveyed 168,000 people in in 30 countries about their use of social media in the workplace. THE SOCIAL BAROMETER
  3. 3. WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL MEDIA, THINK DIRECTION, NOT CONTROL 3 | working socially Two worlds have collided: the personal and the professional. The widespread use of social media by the general public is on a permanent trajectory, and it has streamed into the professional workplace. Use of social media across an individual’s personal networks is now competing with formal, business-oriented social communications on company-branded properties. Not only is there concern for the proper use of employees’ time while at work, but also for their possible conflicting and competing messaging within the same channels. Simply put, within the social space, informal conversations are bumping into formal ones. The emerging generation of workers, Generation Y (born between 1982 and 1995), has grown up with browsers and portable technology accessible day and night. From internet forums and blogs to social networks of every stripe, the latest wave of workers sees no need to leave tools or communication habits at home. Not surprisingly, the established cadre of workers, Generation X (born between 1964 and 1981) and the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1963), are slower to accept the personal use of social media at work. That said, this more mature demographic is now showing the most rapid growth rate. Many companies began pushing their messages to customers through social mechanisms around 2005. Now they realize that social communication is a way of life in charting employee-related strategies and protocols. They have also come to recognize that broadcast communication can be supported by or even replaced with social tools, internally or externally. Even advertising has become a two- way street, if not a multi-lane, social highway. After we asked the opinions of nearly 170,000 survey participants in 30 countries, it’s clear that the presence of social media is something to manage or direct, not to fear. Social media started as a primary impetus behind describing and sharing, online, the details of daily life. Now social media is sparking new ways of thinking about work, doing work, and taking care of customers. For corporate organizations, the potential of social media could be viewed as one of the most useful phenomenon of online innovations. This brings us to the two obvious risks in the social–professional mix: worker distraction and corporate over-reaction. Users of social media see it as a personal tool for sharing and communicating. If you try to remove these tools, many feel their rights are being infringed upon. Nearly a third of survey participants believe it’s acceptable to use social media for personal reasons at work. On the geographical dimension, 48 percent of Asia-Pacific participants find it acceptable to do personal socializing via technology during working hours. Yet despite the social media rights viewpoint, 47 percent of all participants, across generations and geography, worry that the social–professional boundary
  4. 4. WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL MEDIA, THINK DIRECTION, NOT CONTROL continued 4 | working socially crossing might cause problems at work. And it goes both ways; 56 percent of all participants believe that access to their social pages is not their employers’ right. Many companies continue to view social media as something they must regulate. A more pragmatic viewpoint suggests another path: the use of social media in the workplace is best considered in terms of responsibility – neither a right nor a cause for restriction. Corporate leaders have three options. They can let the collision follow an unguided course. They can look at it as a problem and implement aggressive blockades to tackle it. Or there’s the third alternative, our preference. Says Kelly CEO Carl Camden, “By establishing basic guard-rails around social media, companies can dramatically accelerate the speed at which their teams can safely operate … helping them respond to the market faster than ever before.” Embracing the concept of a social business and constructing it requires strategic attention. The process is a matter of degree – the difference between setting direction and resorting to command and control, the process of converging personal rights and management responsibility. Smart companies are putting social media to use, not fighting it – because it’s a powerful way to connect with people inside the company and to connect with external stakeholders. Besides, even if you prevent social media use on company equipment, your employees will connect through their own tools like personal smartphones. However, to counter social media’s strong power to distract, companies must set the tone by proactively developing and implementing social policies, strategies and their supporting tactics. Also, to stand any chance of success, these initiatives must directly relate to the organization’s business strategies and must be fully supported and funded by the executive leadership team.
  5. 5. It would be easy to conclude that using social media at work is more popular with younger workers or workers in emerging economies because they “get” smart technology or because mobile tools are the only resources they have for communication. But every year, the use of smart technology and visits to social media sites are growing exponentially among Baby Boomers. So why do we have such a big divide when it comes to opinions about using social media at work? The digital divide in the workplace pertains not only to the adoption of social media and smart technology but also to the norms around what people consider appropriate working behavior. This is an experience gap, and employers can close it by setting priorities and establishing processes that clarify what is the appropriate 5 | working socially #1 / find common ground use of social media in their individual work environments. By fostering work experiences – on projects and in targeted customer relationships – that incorporate a role for social media and establish the parameters, companies can set a foundation for the wise, productive use of social media on terms that satisfy management and workers of all backgrounds. As workers witness the impact of their influence on the company’s use of social media, and as they see in front of them concrete examples of professionalism, their social energy will shift to more professional pursuits while they’re at work. A balance can be found with the younger worker sharing their knowledge of social media and the more mature worker sharing their knowledge of professional and appropriate communication. Combining both can lead to a powerful advantage for an organization. It’s wise to avoid the classic mistake of employing younger, green employees to manage corporate communities without the overseeing eye of an employee wise in the art of professional communication. To begin putting social media use in the context of workplace experience, companies can take five actions. 1 Manage the initial disruption. Establish a social media-use policy to protect both employees and the corporate brand from issues ranging from simple embarrassment to disruptive legal actions. 2 Involve employees of all experience levels in a review of company ethics and performance standards. Guide employees in exploring how social media can serve existing standards, rather then threatening them. 3 Directly align the social strategy with business objectives. This provides for a stronger, longer-term strategy and helps prevent organizations from becoming too socially tactical and prevents the urge to chase every new social item on the horizon. 4 Participate on social networks with a branded presence and integrate social networks into branded web sites. These efforts should directly support the corporate objectives (i.e. serve the company’s sales, marketing, customer service, recruiting and media strategies). 5 Empower employees to share relevant company content within their networks. Define a simple process that allows people to engage.
  6. 6. 6 | working socially Indicating social media progress, only 12 percent of survey participants said their companies still ban the use of social media outright. When a company stops looking at the social–professional collision as war, it signals its acknowledgement of the fact that social media is not only here to stay but can be a strong asset. With the elimination of the war context, changing internal nomenclature from “arsenal” to “toolkit”, companies can explore the uses of social media in real time, demonstrating that while they may still be learning how to fully leverage social tools, #2 / Build a toolkit they’re not just waiting it out or hoping it goes away. Successful companies make the social media policy the heart of the toolkit, establishing general use guidelines and standards. The best policies link directly to business strategy and organization culture, emphasizing what employees can do, not just what they cannot. Strong policies are inclusive and leverage employees as advocates, thereby allowing the company to scale social tactics across their employees’ social networks. In these early years of social media policy-setting, 10 best practices have emerged: 1 Address the real-time nature of communicating 2 Consider the abundance of channels available 3 Articulate how specific social media channels support the company’s business and strengthen customer and community relationships 4 Clarify the parameters for using company equipment and social media accounts (while being aware of and not violating freedom of speech and labor laws) 5 Explain good sense and sharing examples of industry and corporate best practices 6 State both the risk and rewards of specific behaviors 7 Update the policy regularly and communicate those updates 8 Clarify that employees have a stake in the success of the policy by setting guidelines for how employees can listen and respond to company activity on social networks 9 Give examples of positive and negative use of social media Be prepared for what will go publically wrong. Think social triage. 10
  7. 7. 7 | working socially #3 / Set boundaries Boundaries between companies, their employees, suppliers and customers will continue to blur. At the same time, hierarchies are flattening, so employees are taking a bigger role in organizing themselves into cross- functional teams. In managing these shifts, companies are equipping employees to access corporate knowledge and experience in a self-directed manner. However, companies should expect employees to turn to each other informally and to external online sources both to educate themselves and to share their opinions. All generations value having unencumbered access to information, colleagues and friends. With nearly half of all survey participants expressing concern about mixing personal and professional social media contacts and channels, it’s clear that the desire for boundaries is not the issue; it’s how to set them. There’s nothing better for dealing with shifting boundaries than to create new ones. But in the socially connected workplace, the boundaries must be fluid and used to empower employees, not limit them. Begin by setting expectations and then get down to specifics. Here are a few examples. 1 With rights come responsibilities. If you want this, then you are responsible for that. 2 When you share anything that falls outside of the defined scope of appropriate information sharing (as explained in the social media policy), you can expect a reaction that may include employment termination. 3 Company equipment is for company activity and therefore can be monitored. Assume that’s the case. 4 Personality is fine; getting personal is not. 5 Here is what we – managers and employees – consider “too much information”. (Provide pertinent and specific examples) In the socially connected workplace, the boundaries must be fluid and used to empower employees, not limit them
  8. 8. 8 | working socially #4 / capitalize on cultural differences Geographic location clearly bears on the way company cultures absorb social media activity. In the Asia Pacific, workers are three times more likely than in the Americas to approve of the personal use of social media at work – yet they don’t want or expect surveillance. Workers in other parts of the world may use social media at work, and they would be surprised if their companies didn’t take a peek. Companies that hire only in their resident countries may believe they are immune from the impact of findings like these, but the fact is, large migrant populations are entering workforces far from their native lands – bringing cultural habits, including their use and perceptions of social media, with them. Apart from studying and benchmarking cultural practices, companies can do three things to capitalize on cultural differences. 1 Use the fact that many non-native workers are comfortable accessing and sharing information, so they can provide rich experiential data about social media channels and habits. 2 Visa requirements set high standards for skill, experience and even education levels. Combined with the fact that these workers are digital natives, recognize that they could share valuable best practices for managing time and relationships via digital means. 3 The non-native worker’s state of connectedness means they’re connected to their native markets. This knowledge and these relationships have inherent value to employers seeking to understand multicultural markets – as well as expanding globally. In the Asia Pacific, workers are three times more likely than in the Americas to approve personal use of social media at work—yet they don’t want or expect surveillance
  9. 9. 9 | working socially #5 / Invigorate your training Companies continue to make significant investments in professional development and training. For many of these organizations, it is the equivalent of military boot camp, acculturating employees into “the company way” – from product development to customer service methodology. As a burgeoning element of corporate culture now worthy of policy and strategic attention, social media has a place in the corporate training manual too – not only as a subject, but as a teaching channel. Companies need to find the middle ground between a boot camp mentality and a college campus style of training. Learning via social media – social learning – should never replace the practice of workers learning from each other. It should, in fact, enhance it. For at least the next two decades, social learning methods will level the playing field between workers of different experience levels. Experienced workers may share company, customer and industry knowledge with new staff, and new staff will demonstrate the real-time capacity of using social media to exchange ideas, communicate with customers and capture industry practices from anywhere in the world. By eliminating physical and temporal constraints, learning via social media can help companies concentrate worker learning on expertise and data, and possibly move away from legacy modes of learning based on top-down decision-making. The result will be highly skilled workers with access to each other, producing innovative solutions that increase the company’s value to all its stakeholders. A quality training course would include the following basic elements: 1 Stay current – with constant changes in social media a corporation’s training will quickly become dated. 2 Use examples – the use of overarching examples can provide guidance with more longevity. 3 Leverage what’s already available – many social networks provide in-depth help. Don’t reinvent the wheel. 4 Global corporations need training that includes the diverse social channels they’ll use around the world. Learning via social media should never replace the practice of workers learning from each other. It should, in fact, enhance it
  10. 10. 10 | working socially #6 / dig a productivity channel In a perfect world, the corporate use of social media fuels effective, timesaving interaction not just between workers but between the company and its suppliers, customers and influencers. Forty-seven percent of the survey participants worry that their use of social media at work, for personal reasons, will lead to problems. Forty-three percent report that social media has already negatively affected their productivity. Getting workers to manage their personal time with social media to minimize distraction at work requires giving them a reason to use social media for productivity. This is the bridge to the state of transformation that will benefit the company as well the workers. 1 Identify workers at every level – executives, managers, staff – who are using social media correctly. Give them a company platform that enables them to set an example. 2 Ask these workers to share their tips for using social media at work, including how to manage their personal time. 3 Look for ways to improve work processes through social media, especially as they relate to internal knowledge sharing, sales and customer relations. 4 Use analytics to capture how social media is helping the company improve. Share the data. 5 Reinforce the positive intersection of personal and professional use of social media. They are not diametrically opposed; they just need to be intelligently and proactively directed. Getting workers to manage their personal time with social media to minimize distraction requires giving them a reason to use social media for productivity
  11. 11. 11 | working socially #7 / recast employees as messengers People have always discussed their work with the expectation that the conversation’s reach would be limited to the recipient or the recipient’s network if they chose to repeat the discussion. However, social media makes it very easy now for one message, however private or momentary, to be repeated on a very large scale. Add to this the indexing and search ability of the message and it takes on an entire life of its own. Nearly a quarter of survey participants report that they think it is acceptable to use social media to communicate with friends and colleagues about work. The fact is, employees are now company messengers. And even for the employees who confine their personal use of social media to non-work hours, if they’re talking about work, they are, to some extent, representing the company. Employees are no longer just assets, they comprise a primary conduit to the marketplace. It’s time to equip employees for the brand ambassador role. 1 Think about the employee persona that depicts the company’s culture, product and services authentically, compelling interest and loyalty from customers and other employees. Give this persona a voice by giving employees content they can use in describing the company and their roles in it. 2 Consider ways to enable employees to vent with each other within the company’s own walls so that they don’t feel the need to do it via public channels. 3 Create new mechanisms for employees to create and share company content. It will differentiate you in the marketplace 4 Connect employees to current company thought leaders, and put their own thought leadership in the spotlight. 5 Back up the company’s own socially- based interaction with employees with offline activities that are already a part of the company’s culture. 6 Remind workers that every encounter is an opportunity to connect – make it a positive connection. 7 Above all, remind employees to listen first and then talk only when they have engaging and relevant content to share. Nobody likes a person who constantly talks about themselves without regard to the ongoing conversation; the same holds true on social media. Employees are no longer just assets, they comprise a primary conduit to the marketplace
  12. 12. 12 | working socially #8 / expand your tribe It’s no surprise that within business strategy discussions there is some contradictory dialogue about the use of social media. While people are moving increasingly online to look for work, they don’t like the idea of potential or current employers studying their social media moves. Only around one third of survey participants think a current employer should look at an employee’s social network pages – or that a prospective employer should use them to make a hiring decision. Yet 30 percent of participants also state they use social media in their job searching, more than newspapers or even online job boards. Somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of companies use social media to recruit workers. A company’s social media presence can in fact be a strong point of differentiation from its competitors. Various forms of social media can be used to showcase the company, search for and engage with candidates. For forward-looking companies, these efforts can also be tied to onboarding and training employees – and connecting them to one another to extend the corporate culture to decentralized employees. Various forms of social media can be used to showcase the company, search for and engage with candidates and screen them
  13. 13. 13 | working socially #9 / Feed your customers Every company wants to be close to its customers. Until social media knocked on the enterprise door, companies studied their customers in the context of the products and services they were selling. When conducting research and tests, companies more often than not put potential and established products in front of customers to see what they thought. Now, personal technology has put customers at least at pace with product and service innovation, if not ahead of it. So companies have begun to listen to customers as a way not just to get close to them, but to help define products and services – social innovation. Workers are well aware of the importance of having a home on the social networks, and not just for listening to customers but for taking care of them, too. Workers see their success tied to that of their companies. They understand that customers do business online, so they expect to see companies living there, beyond transactions alone. How a social media presence aligns with the company’s business strategies, cultural values and customer priorities is important to workers. More and more, workers see their companies as communities populated with suppliers, customers, shareholders and traditional media. Alignment with this community is often best expressed in social media, and workers can shepherd it along. If companies feed their customers, they feed their employees, too. 1 Begin with the company’s value proposition. Use social media to ask customers, creatively, what they want, need and expect and where the company adds value to their lives – not just their wallets and the specific problem a product or service addresses. For example, if customers value sustainable business practices, they will want to know if the company employs them. This may not be immediately traceable via product information or pricing; social media is an excellent way to share information about sustainability. 2 Ask good questions. Always express the answers in the customer’s terms. 3 Use what employees know – from their own experiences as customers – to create hallmarks of the company’s brand. Companies have begun to listen to customers as a way not just to get close to them, but to help define products and services
  14. 14. EXIT This information may not be published, broadcast, sold, or otherwise distributed without prior written permission from the authorized party. All trademarks are property of their respective owners. An Equal Opportunity Employer. © 2013 Kelly Services, Inc. About the Authors Todd Wheatland, VP Thought Leadership. With 15 years experience in the human resources and workforce consulting space, Todd has overall responsibility for thought leadership at Kelly Services. He has degrees in Commerce (Economics/Marketing) from UWA and Communication from Curtin University. Linkedin: Twitter: David Fenech is the Vice President of Interactive Marketing & Creative Services at Kelly Services. He has more than 16 years of interactive marketing experience as well as traditional sales and marketing knowledge from multiple Fortune-500 organizations. Dave’s education includes earning a Bachelor of Science degree as well as a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Information Systems. About Kelly Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions. Kelly offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-class staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire, and direct-hire basis. Serving clients around the globe, Kelly provides employment to more than 550,000 employees annually. Revenue in 2011 was $5.6 billion. Visit and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, & Twitter. Download The Talent Project, a free iPad app by Kelly Services.
  1. A particular slide catching your eye?

    Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.