It is fair to say that, over recent years, social media has changed the way we behave, communicate and interact. Social media has permeated our lives, with 83% of Brits and 81% of Americans on at least one social platform.
As much as social media has changed our social lives, it is now impacting and revolutionising human resources and the world of work. One study of over 2,000 employees revealed that 50% of employees publish work-related material, such as photos or videos, on social media. The use of social media might be of concern to some organisations, but other companies have decided to make use of social media and use it to their advantage, thereby boosting employee engagement. After all, given that employees are already so heavily invested, it seems a natural and logical progression to begin to incorporate social media into HR strategy.
Employee engagement is, as ever, a hot topic in HR circles. Modern managers are aware that businesses with engaged employees outperform others by 202% and are 21% more profitable. Unfortunately, a lack of engagement is an ongoing problem that needs addressing. A low-investment and high-impact answer to employee engagement could be social media, given that it’s an inclusive tool: people are already familiar with it and it is readily available.
Below are just a few reasons that explain why social media is such a valuable performance management tool — one that can be used to boost employee engagement and drive productivity.
These days, leaders can’t just be faceless, authoritative and intimidating figures to their employees. They need to be seen, they need to be known and their employees need to interact with them. This approach brings a company together and makes members of staff feel part of a tight-knit team.
Social media affords leaders the opportunity to interact with employees, regardless of geography — which is increasingly important, given the fact that more and more people are working remotely. Using social media, business leaders can engage their employees in conversation and debate. Never forget how critical leadership is to employee engagement.
Managers everywhere are well aware of the importance of the employee feedback loop and how it can impact engagement levels. Employees certainly need feedback on their performance, but equally, employee feedback should be solicited. Managers should regularly talk to their employees to find out how they feel about management and business processes. Social media is a fantastic way of receiving this feedback. By its very nature, social media technology gives people a platform to communicate, debate and interact, and it has been shown that messaging systems such as these are helping employees to speak up at work.
Building meaningful friendships at work doesn’t just result in a more fun lunch break — it’s actually beneficial to employee engagement, performance and morale. Social media provides you with a virtual watercooler, which gives employees the opportunity to bond and share interests, thereby strengthening relationships and improving the office environment.
We all need to take breaks at work. If we don’t take breaks, we make more mistakes, which makes the issue a serious performance management concern. Nobody can work eight or nine hours straight, and short mental breaks do a lot to refresh and revitalise us. Social media can provide such a break without an employee even leaving his or her desk, so before you ban the use of Facebook in your company, consider how it could boost productivity in the long term.
Social media can be a great platform for employees who are dealing with a difficult work problem. If an employee has encountered an issue they can’t solve independently, social media can be used to gain the insights and opinions of others, and allow them to benefit from some outside perspective. With social media, this can happen quickly and easily, and at no charge.
Reward and recognition are critical to healthy employee engagement and performance. If an employee feels undervalued or underappreciated, it is unlikely they will remain with your organisation in the long run. A small gesture or show of recognition is all that is required, and this can be accomplished easily with the use of social media. In seconds, managers can publicly highlight individual employee achievements and celebrate victories, which will go a long way to boosting company morale.
Performance management is an ever-evolving field and, as such, HR professionals need to be on-the-ball and aware of upcoming trends. Social media is a tool that can be used by savvy company leaders, but, as with any other tool, it is the way it is used that really matters. Underlying and supporting this tool needs to be a dedicated manager, an eager team and an HR department that is ready and willing to support employees as they develop and grow.
About the Author: Stuart Hearn is the CEO and founder of Clear Review, a performance management software system that has helped companies around the world build more agile organisations while boosting productivity and performance.
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