“Before you engage externally, you much first engage within”-Brian Solis, The Disconnect Between Aging Management and the Younger Workforce
I have had the opportunity to work for an organization that embraced the use of social media in the workplace. This company in fact brought social media in to the office with a goal of engaging employees, of bringing teams that are situated globally, together. Over the past few years there has been a steady rise in the number of businesses which have begun to utilize social media to engage their employees.
There are big changes coming to organizations as their employees go from “Baby Boomer needs” to “Generation Y needs”. In his blog post titled, The Disconnect Between Aging Management and the Younger Workforce, Brian Solis describes the needs of Generation Y are far more digital than previous generations. Enabling employees to connect through social media will satisfy their needs for instant communication. Working at OpenText, I was exposed to this realm of communication. Through their internal social media tools and communities, employees shared their work experience, triumphs, learned from each other and connected globally. Employees were praised as well for their hard work, and outstanding dedication to their roles. I am a part of this Generation Y group and we are a group that thrives on instant communication, gratification, recognition and community. Staying connected and being encouraged to use internal social media as a tool to learn and promote community in a large organization is so important. These younger employees are already so used to instant feedback and praise, that old ways of doing so are no longer as relevant or powerful. Solis notes that at the present time, Generation Y makes up 35% of the workforce and it is expected that by 2025, this number will increase to 75%. With an increase like that, it will become far more important to meet the needs of those Gen Y employees.
Like all forms of social media, regular promotion and participation is necessary. OpenText’s frequent encouragement of internal social networks by utilizing it for training documents, contests and communications helps to maintain employee involvement. Even though we all love to hop onto our personal social network accounts, we do need regular reminders that the tools are there and we are encouraged to participate in the various discussions, meetings, promotions and contests that are running. Employers need to beware of negativity and criticism. There also needs to be clear communication on the expectations and proper use of such tools, as well as allowing only constructive criticism; because without this, employers run the risk of too much negativity within their network.
I have experienced working for organizations that have zero employee involvement through social media, and I have worked for organizations that fully support and encourage it. I believe that over time, the companies that choose to use social media as a window into their employee’s thoughts and productivity will see the benefits of knowing what makes their teams thrive. Allowing employees to have a voice will not only allow managers and other business leaders to make decisions that foster a happy and enjoyable work place environment, but employees will feel greater satisfaction that they have a voice.
Lessons for others:
• Employees that have a voice are happier and feel more engaged
• Teams of employees that are distanced around the world can still connect and build productive teams using online communities
• Regular communication and training with employees will help encourage the use of these tools, otherwise, people may not feel so inclined to use them
• Employers will need to make changes to their channels of internal communication as the level of generation Y workforce increases
• Management should provide a clear understanding of proper use, avoiding high levels of negativity and encouraging only constructive criticism if necessary
Submitted by: Lyndsey Ehgoetz– SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.
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