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Social media is nothing new.  The pain some employers feel as they try to maintain productivity in the workplace is a real problem… for some employers.  On the other hand, a growing number of employers are modeling employee engagement using social media.  This growing trend can quickly change the look and feel of your workplace culture into one of collaboration, energy, and effective communication.  Learn more about how employers are leveraging social media to improve the company’s culture, and the pitfalls to avoid, during our HRCI-approved webinar: Using Social Media to Skyrocket Employee Engagement.

Taking a Lesson from the Magic Kingdom and College Hires

In the 1970’s, when Walt Disney’s theme parks were struggling to address a blossoming turnover issue among college new hires, they ultimately decided it made more sense to embrace the turnover.  Rather than fighting against the current like a salmon swimming upstream, they used the talent that was flocking to their theme parks and businesses with the specific understanding that those employees would only be with the company for a relatively short time.  Ultimately, Disney launched the very large (and very successful) Disney College Program as a way of embracing short-term hires as interns.  College students and fresh-from-college graduates who stay beyond their internship are rotated through various positions where the training requirement is manageable, the learning curve is steep, and the reward to the college grad is the experience.  Disney realized the lemonade that was to be had with college hires, even if the company ultimately could not provide the high wages and posh working conditions of other area employers who recruited on campus.  Today, college candidates flock to Disney for valuable experience, and employers cherish the opportunity to interview the top-tier talent Disney is known for hiring and developing.

The Solution Is In Front of You

It seems as though virtually every employer struggles to filter out social media from their workplaces.  With strict prohibitions for employees and watchful supervisors, sites like the bandwidth-draining YouTube, the evil Twitter, and the time vacuum Facebook are typically blocked, putting them in the same category as dirty sites that operate on the seedy underbelly of the internet.  But that categorization is a bit extreme.

Highlighting an example, Facebook has a widely successful workplace app called Work Chat (marketed as @workplace) that allows employers to create their own private Facebook groups. It takes all the best features of instant messaging, chat tools, texting, and e-mail, and integrates them into a business-friendly social media solution.  Employers establish the groups and invite specific employees into each group.  The groups are closed, private, and if an employee leaves the company, removing them is incredibly simple.  What could your employees accomplish if they were highly engaged with a group of their peers who were working on the same tasks as them?

An Example: New Hire Engagement That’s Cult-Like

Think about it.  Do you want to keep in touch with each group of new hires for their first 30-days of employment?  Why not streamline orientation into engaging, relevant content, and push periodic material to them in the weeks following orientation.  The content you push after orientation could provide more information on workplace policies and expectations, provide additional content on company culture, give the new hires more personalized invitations to company events they may otherwise feel too new and awkward to attend, and allow them to ask questions among their new hire cohort.  What’s the downside to this?  There really doesn’t seem to be one.  With the constant focus on employee engagement in this full employment market, a simple solution like this can quickly make an impact in virtually any organization.

Another Example: Cross Departmental Project Groups with Seamless Communication

The psychology is pretty simple, actually.  Planning events and strategizing on projects using Facebook is something even school-aged kids do with ease.  If we took Facebook away from the kids and made them strategize over e-mail, they would instantly balk at the clumsiness and non-“real time” nature of traditional e-mail.  Leveraging this same platform for your project teams is a natural fit.  The team would have their own group with real-time notifications coming right to all of their devices (versus e-mails that get buried in bloated in-baskets), with an instant ability to text or chat face-to-face directly in the app.  When the project is over, the @workplace group is dissolved and the team members are undoubtedly already engaged in their next projects.

And Another Example: Location-Specific Groups

You already have location-specific e-mail distribution lists.  Give those same groups the ability to connect with their co-workers at their location in real time for instant discussion of sales goals, coverage changes, site meeting information, etc.

OK… You Get the Picture

Although @workplace is a slick product, similar business-oriented products are available from Twitter, YouTube, and Yammer.  They each approach the workplace differently and fill a different need.  If this is the first you’re hearing about these software offerings, realize that although they’re new to you, they’re not new to the marketplace.  These types of social-media-turned-employee-engagement tools have been around for five to eight years, depending on the platform.

Yes, There are Pitfalls

As with any workplace communication tool, there are pitfalls inherent in these adaptations from social media.  Because these products are not new, we have a solid understanding of where the landmines are and what to avoid from those companies that were early adopters.

To learn more about leveraging these tools for your workplace as well as what to avoid when considering them, join us for our HRCI-approved webinar Using Social Media to Skyrocket Employee Engagement.  Next time the discussion turns to lighting a fire under employee engagement, suggest a solution that will really make an impact!

FinePoint HR is an HRCI Approved Provider.