Social media has been significantly influencing different aspects of our professional and personal lives. Organizations have been focusing on leveraging social media for business growth and promotion. However, they often overlook the potential of social media for effective communication at the workplace and strengthening employee-to-employee relationships.
Social media can play an important role in bringing their workforce closer together and enhance collaboration and communication between employees. Social media platforms can also simplify the process of information sharing besides encouraging enhanced employee engagement.
The interest of organizations to harness social media often stems from the fear of its misuse by employees. Often, organizations believe that giving employees freedom to use social media at the workplace can reduce their efficiency and productivity.
They believe that employees would spend significant time interacting with their friends and updating their status on social networking sites. Hence, it would impact their productivity and efficiency adversely. In fact, many organizations have completely banned access to social media for their employees, which can be counterproductive.
Moreover, most employees access social media through smartphones, so banning such access on the corporate network might not actually work.
So rather than curbing social media usage, organizations should to find ways to use it for effective workplace communication.
Social media platforms can help improve workplace communication and contribute to developing a positive work culture in different ways:
A few of these are discussed in brief as follows:
1. Establishing strong personal relationships with co-workers
The various social media platforms provide an informal environment for employees to connect and interact, at a personal level. Hence, it makes it easier for co-workers to connect with each other and work towards building strong bonds.
Employees find it easier to share ideas and opinions with co-workers, with whom they already interact freely on social media. This, in turn, results in better coordination and collaboration between employees, especially those working in different teams within the organization.
For example, employees in different teams may figure out from Facebook that they share similar hobbies or interests.
2. Adds value to employee recognition
Using social media to recognize employee efforts and achievements help in adding value to the entire process. It also can open up channels of communication between co-workers. When employees are congratulated by their peers on social media, it enhances their motivation significantly. It also increases their willingness to interact with less familiar co-workers.
This results in breaking barriers between individuals and teams, besides enhancing the overall engagement of the workforce.
For example, when an employee shares a post on LinkedIn about a recognition received, its often gets a lot of likes and comments from coworkers and even ex-colleagues.
3. Discuss professional problems in a relaxed manner
Often employees find it difficult to discuss work-related problems with co-workers or supervisors at the workplace, formally. Hence, in such cases social media sites provide a good platform to discuss such issues informally with the concerned people.
The very nature of social networking sites makes it easier for them to have an informal conversation about serious work issues. In fact, a significant chunk of the corporate workforce is already doing this over WhatsApp or Facebook Messengers.
4. Create internal social networks
Organizations can also consider building internal social networks to enhance corporate communication that could save both time and money. These internal networks can be used for conducting online meetings, carrying out discussions, etc. This can facilitate faster decision making and also enhance the overall productivity of the workforce.
It can also be an effective forum to increase employee involvement by seeking opinions and feedback. In fact, WhatsApp and other social media platforms are often being used for communication and collaboration by most organizations.
5. Gain information and support
Social media be a great source of valuable information for employees, which they can share with their co-workers. They can connect with experts to get advice and opinions on challenging technical or business problems.
Also, by sharing this information with their teams, they can spread the knowledge further. This, in turn, can help in developing the capability and effectiveness of the workforce. Employees sharing articles of common interest on LinkedIn or Twitter can help improve the organization’s overall knowledge and capability.
6. Provides a break time for employees
Also, ocial media can offer employees an opportunity to relax and refresh their minds without venturing too far from their workstation. In fact, they can enjoy such breaks as frequently as they like without disturbing their co-workers or indulging in other useless activities.
Most importantly, any data gathered during such breaks can be used to improve employee communication at the workplace. This information can be used by employees to share a laugh, improve general knowledge and even to simply entertain one-another.
Hence, tt can help in creating an informal work environment and make employees more comfortable to spend long hours at work.
Rather than completely banning social media usage, organizations should look to make social media integral to their internal communication policy. Such a measure can provide a multitude of benefits for the organization.
It is important for organizations to set boundaries for the usage of social media – the dos’ and the don’ts as part of the policy and monitor its usage. Social media is here to stay and is already an important aspect of almost every employee’s personal life.
Most organizations have overlooked the potential of social media for effective communication at the workplace. They should harness social media to enhance the freedom of expression among employees. This can help them develop a great workplace culture based on mutual trust, understanding, and team spirit.
To stay updated on the latest HiFives blogs follow us on Twitter (@MyHiFives)