The Benefits of Social Media Networking in the Workplace

Jan 14, 2014
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There are employers who believe that social networking at work is a time-waster and slows productivity. In reality, utilizing social media networks can also be hugely beneficial in reducing employee turnover and increasing collaboration.

Bernhard Warner for Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes, “Workers who are encouraged to tweet, chat, like, and Skype on the job are among the most productive, new academic research says, shooting yet another hole in the managerial argument that social media in the workplace leads to goofing off and slacking on company time.”f

Most productive, eh? Want to know more?

The use of social media in the workplace or the implementation of an internal social media networking site (SNS) can provide a variety of benefits. Here are 4:

1. Productivity Increase

Research by the McKinsey Global Institute revealed that while 72% of companies are using social media, they are not using it to the fullest potential, which includes the implementation of an internal SNS or employee engagement platform. If companies were to fully implement the use of social media and an SNS, they could improve employee productivity by 20% to 25%.

Research has shown that employees who are social are more comfortable communicating with others and researching customer solutions, and are more likely to collaborate with those they are unfamiliar with in real life.

2. Collaboration

Social media networking encourages employees to reach out to colleagues across your organization and pose questions or start a conversation around a particular topic.

For example, let’s say you operate a call center with hundreds of customer inquiries per day. Most of the work is routine and you’ve got a script to answer the basic questions. However, there will be a time when the question is not basic and requires more thought, more research. Well, you can’t take days to find an answer or solution. Your customer is waiting and wants it now. If you’ve got an internal SNS, your employee can jump on the SNS and post the question and receive timely responses from fellow colleagues. With mobile HR software, or a mobile app version of your SNS , you may decrease response time even further.

An SNS also encourages employees to work together. Sure, they may never meet in person, but they can definitely build a relationship that fosters creativity and collaboration.

3. Retention

Trying to keep employees motivated and engaged? Promote recognition and good performance through SNS announcements. Employees can congratulate each other, building an environment of team work and encouraging peer-to-peer feedback. The more engaged your employees, the more likely they are to stay.

The use of social media can reduce turnover as well. Big data firm, Evolv, tracked employee performance alongside social media use and found that digital connectivity increased employee retention. The study, focused on hourly workers in the U.S. and from a sample size of about 39,000, found, “The employees who used 1 to 4 social networking sites on a weekly basis stayed at their jobs longer than their peers.” And more interesting, the “ultra-social” employees that used more than 5 social networks, had higher sales than their colleagues.

4. Intelligence

Social media just makes you smarter. Employees that are researching, communicating, and building online networks are some of the most involved, innovative, and progressive-minded people you’ll find. They’re engaging in thoughtful conversations and trending as experts in their industries. You need this knowledge in your call centers, advertising floors, and yes, even in your accounting department.

The learning opportunities you can offer with social media are endless. New perspectives and loads of good information exists on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even your own internal SNS. You’re looking for that competitive edge and social media can provide that in 140 characters or less.

That's definitely something to consider when hiring new employees as well. How many social networks are they currently on? What are they most comfortable using in a business environment? You may even think about including social media as a part of your onboarding program.

Smart companies are quickly recognizing that social media use has become an important aspect of doing business. It has become a requirement for everyone to be social—not just the Millennials you’ve hired. It is everyone’s responsibility to find the competitive edge and drive the business forward.

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