Embracing Social Media as a means to achieve Employee Engagement

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Social media has changed the world, including the world of Human Resources. It plays an active part in many different facets of the space, especially recruitment. But it has other uses. Social media is the perfect medium for employee engagement.

The HR Exchange Network, recently, conducted a poll surrounding technology in the HR space. The purpose of the pose was to get a better idea as to what technologies companies were embracing and how. First, HREN asked what technologies respondents’ companies were currently using. Tied at 58% were social media and eLearning.

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Focusing the attention on employee engagement, HREN asked respondents how important employee engagement was to those companies. A correlation emerged.

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79% of takers said it was very important. Again diving deeper, respondents were asked to indicate how they were engaging with their employees.

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The top three vote getters were clear winners here:

  1. Surveys
  2. Social Platforms
  3. Career Pathing

“Social media is an undeniable means for companies to be seen by potential clients and employees. Image is everything, and social media allows an organization to exert a moderate level of control around its public image,” Sana’ Rasul said. She’s the Chief Girlfriend at HR Girlfriends LLC.

Going further, social media offers HR professionals the perfect opportunity to tell their company’s story through photos and blog posts. Rasul used fast-food restaurant Wendy’s as an example.

“I am a sarcastic and witty woman, so when I read tweets from Wendy’s I cannot help but to laugh. Wendy’s social media team has a tendency to roast their competition and bite back at followers that incite them. This approach may be great for a Wendy’s customer like myself, but potential employees may feel differently. Wendy’s approach runs the risk of deterring employees who prefer to work for a more conservative brand, with less notoriety for roasting,” Rasul explained. “On the flip side, if Wendy’s tweets are indicative of their work culture then keeping those candidates from applying may be a great strategy.”

Social media is also a good place to find out what current and potential employees are saying about the company.

The benefits of social media to HR professionals are endless. It allows for the continued update of news, technology, and trends. Relationships can be nurtured by sharing industry knowledge. And all of those reasons make it the perfect place to engage employees, build relationships, and facilitate workplace conversations.

Decisions Must Be Made

For the sake of this article, the leading assumption is your company is new to using social media in terms of employee engagement. Where to begin?

Any social media strategy must be brand-focused and led. To do that, consider the following:

1. Decide whether the policy is going to be an open system or a closed system; internet versus intranet. In an open system, employees are engaging with each other as well as potential co-workers and customers. In a closed system, the social platform exists only for employees. Outside influences are slim to none. Some may consider a closed system to be ‘anti-social’.

2. When defining the company’s approach, be positive. Telling employees what they can’t do could have the effect of discouraging them from engaging. Explaining, instead, what you would like to see gives incentive for those employees to take part in the process.

That said, it is important to remember the sensitive nature of business. Employees must be cognizant of what they’re posting and to make sure it is not proprietary.

Debra Wasserman is the Director of HR Service Delivery for TransUnion.

“We communicate regularly to our associates to be careful with what they post on social media regarding our company given the sensitive nature of our business,” Wasserman said. She also indicated the directive is codified in TransUnion company policy.

3. Provide plenty of training and educational opportunities when it comes to implementing this new strategy. Just because an employee has a social media presence doesn’t mean they are aficionados. Lessons on social media itself, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content marketing and online reputation management are good topics with which to begin. This will open employees’ eyes to new possibilities and will increase a willingness to participate.

4. Give employees a reason to engage. Think grassroots employee buy-in. To be blunter, you must answer this question for employees: What’s in it for me? There are many different social media outlets available to people. Some will be better at some than others. Make sure to put expectations in place to account for this certainty. Play to their strengths. Remember to regularly motivate, recognize, and reward your employees. These individuals will be your best brand spokespeople.

5. Make social media and participation a part of employee job descriptions and pay plan. This may seem like something a company wouldn’t consider. However, when you think about it in context, it makes sense. You expect people to show up on time, correct? You require them to perform their job duties, correct? Why not fold social media participation into their duties and pay them for completing the task?

6. Make sure to track, analyze, and reinforce the value of the work. Most social media sites offer some key metrics. Keep abreast of what those numbers are showing. Explain how this form of engagement is enriching the company, whether that means leads converted into sales or new reviews from clients/customers. Also, make sure to use the analytics in a predictive way. If something seems like it is not producing the leads you expected, change it. Allow your employees to be a part of that change by asking them to offer suggestions.

Put Into Practice

Knowing the steps on how to start this process is altogether different then implementation.

The following are two examples where companies had employees engage socially and the results they gained.

First, L’Oréal.

L’Oréal had a problem. The company attempted to used employee testimonials shared via social media to attract new talent, but found the strategy wasn’t working.

A Nielsen study, at the time, found consumer trust in brands was falling, but found trust among family and friends to be much stronger. L’Oréal used this piece to reinvent their strategy: people would trust their friends and family on social medial when it came to L’Oréal being a great place to work.

So, they created two hashtags.

The first, #LifeatLoreal, was designed as a way for corporate communications to find out what was happening across the company. Basically to see what the fun events were and what the culture among its employees was like.

What they didn’t expect was the amount of exposure they would gain in the process.

The engagement from employees was overwhelming. L’Oréal actually launched a campaign that included prizes such as iPads and GoPros and even offered a chance to be featured on L’Oréal’s social channels.

The second hashtag, #LorealCommunity, was about employees sharing how they interacted socially with fellow employees inside and outside of work. Between the two hashtag campaigns, L’Oréal saw an increase of 200,000 unique impressions on Instagram. In the end, the company was able to make their culture stand out and create a stronger brand.

Another company making social media strides where employee engagement is concerned: Starbucks.

Altimeter listed the coffee company as the Number 1 company on its list of global brand’s value and engagement within social media channels. It beat companies like Google (Number 4), Nike (Number 7), and Amazon (Number 8).

How did the company snag the top spot on the list?

Their strategy included:

  • Emphasized quality not just quantity
  • Made social media engagement a part of everyone’s job
  • Told employees everyone must do something
  • Told employees to find their ‘sweet spot’

In doing so, they company certainly found their ‘sweet spot’.

As a result of their strategy, Starbucks saw:

  • An increase of share price from $7 to $20
  • Gained more than 5 million Facebook fans
  • Quadrupled traffic to their website
  • Gained 250 million global PR media impressions
  • Gained 487 million global Facebook impressions


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Courtesy:  Stock Photo Secrets

For the employee, engagement is about being fully invested as a team member, focused on clear goals, being trusted and empowered, and receiving regular and constructive feedback, developing new skills, and being thanked and recognized for achievements.

For the employer, engagement is about positive attitudes, drawing on employees’ knowledge and skills for improvement, better communication, and making sure the company’s values are consistent and respected.