Many businesses go to great lengths to block social media access at the office, with the idea that time not spent on Facebook or Twitter means more time invested in paid work. In reality, though, if implemented in moderation, social networking can actually be beneficial. Allowing employees to use social media on a carefully moderated system can instill a greater sense of inclusion and a more positive, productive work ethic.
Can social media improve the work environment?
Let’s face it: humans are social creatures, regardless of company mandates. By creating and nurturing their own online communities – reinforced with a clear, well-communicated social media usage policy – businesses can satisfy employees’ need for interaction while supporting a more engaged, invested, and productive culture.
1. Communication. Social media allows a visible exchange of ideas. It puts information and insights out there where everyone in the office can see and respond to it, ensuring that all your employees are on the same page. It also allows connected users to address similar goals or concerns, or to engage around topics like production and company values. For large or global companies, a shared social media community can even help overcome communication barriers between divisions, locations, and even cultures.
2. Morale. Social media communities create a safe environment for sharing, where members are encouraged to voice their news, challenges, and opinions freely. When part of a dynamic community, employees are more likely to feel better about themselves as valued members of a team, and thus, more invested in your company as a whole. They’ll not only come to trust your company as a resource, but also develop a stronger understanding of its mission, values, and culture – which means they’ll be able to convey that image more effectively to customers. Plus, regular social networking will build anticipation for updates and keep workers engaged (perhaps even out of the office).
3. Productivity. A social media network just for employees can actually improve productivity as a measure of output. Employees who perceive themselves as members of an active, supportive community will turn out higher-quality work than those who feel like anonymous cogs. The promise of a reward between tasks – even a few minutes checking their social media feeds – can also motivate employees to work more efficiently. What’s more, after a break for social media, they can return to work with a refreshed mind. And of course, social media is a great way for remote workers or teams to collaborate on projects, saving time and resources.
4. Motivation. There’s nothing like positive peer pressure to inspire change. Whether it’s for more effective work habits or a healthier lifestyle, a strong social media community fosters the challenge and supportive camaraderie that encourage beneficial behavior decisions. It’s a great place to provide advice, self-evaluations, and other tools and resources for your employees to reach their goals. Plus, by hosting friendly games and competitions, a social network can spur a greater enthusiasm to succeed, while recognizing and rewarding employees for their achievements.
To make your social media network an effective tool, of course, it’s important to remember a few management tips:
- Create an in-house social media policy. Even star employees can become addicted to social media if the opportunity is constantly open. Before implementing a company-wide social network, it’s important to set down clear rules and expectations for its use, including how and when employees should access each page, limits on the time they spend online, and how their activity will be monitored.
- Encourage employees to share and update regularly. Any online community is shaped by its most active members. The more people in your office contribute, the more engaging and productive your social media network will be – so give your employees plenty of incentive to join in.
- Set clear guidelines for acceptable content. While a strong social media community depends on all members having an equal voice, it’s important that users understand the most constructive, valuable, and appropriate things to share in the workplace. Make sure your employees are informed and literate about your industry, too, so that they know how to talk about your company outside of the office.
- Offer social media training. Not all of your employees may be familiar with the platform you’ve chosen, or aware of its full functionality. It’s a good idea to provide regular informational sessions, tip sheets, tutorials, and more to help users make the most of your in-office network – especially if you’re changing networks or introducing social media for the first time.
Social media is not just for personal networking, but also for successful marketing, branding, and everyday business operations. If you don’t already have a closed company group on one of the various social media channels available, it may be time to consider incorporating one – and to discover the benefits of a connected business culture.
How can social media inspire positive change for your business? Join Pulse Marketing Agency for a free seminar on Thursday, March 20, 2014: Using Social Media to Promote Health and Wellness in the Workplace. Our presentation is part of the 5th Annual Workplace Wellness Leadership Symposium at the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor – we hope to see you there!