Leveraging Social Media to Your Business Advantage

Social media is becoming a powerful business tool.  It is very common for businesses to post their latest achievements and other useful customer information on various media sites. Indeed, The Staffing Stream allows for the interconnection between this webpage and your own social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Businesses are attracted to the marketing part of social media because they can control the messaging.  Similarly, posting jobs on social media websites is now a standard practice. What businesses fear the most is part of social media they cannot control — employees’ postings.

Companies that are successful in leveraging social media with their employees do so by embracing its potential, rather than controlling it through restrictive-use policies. They create and promote open communication and understand that social media is democratizing organizations, whether they like it or not. The “power distance” among organizational levels is shrinking.

Company reputations can be built or destroyed by social media. Sites like Glassdoor.com provide the opportunity for employees to post information on what it is like working for an employer. All that an employer can control is providing its employees with a positive work experience. Given that staffing companies are in the business of employing lots people, this information can provide a competitive advantage for a firm.

For example, in reviewing Glassdoor’s website, the five largest staffing companies are mostly rated in the low threes (on a five-point scale). One firm significantly out performed the others, with a rating in the high threes. Similar patterns emerged on approval ratings of the CEO.  The top firm’s CEO received 100 percent approval, while the remaining four firms had CEO approval ratings ranging from 62 percent to 80 percent. With these results available to potential job candidates, contingent works and customers, all else being equal one firm stands out as a better employer and clearly has an advantage in attracting better talent.

So what can organizations do to leverage social media and build their reputations as an employer of choice?

  1. Understand what drives your employee satisfaction.  Set up your own internal social media site to gain a perspective on what motivates and troubles people.  Review public social media websites like Glassdoor. Conduct your own formal employee surveys.
  2. Create a social media friendly organization. Create social media use policies that make sense to employees and encourage responsible use.
  3. Focus on empowering employees. They already have opinions about you as an employer. Harness this energy and turn it to a positive by creating ways to engage employees in their work and the company’s mission.

Build a leadership team and organizational culture that fits with an employer that embraces social media.   Leaders that are flexible, open-minded, risk takers and less controlling perform best in more democratized organizational cultures. Select and develop leaders aren’t afraid to give up control of their employees.

Carl Greenberg
Carl Greenberg is the founder of Pragmatic HR Consulting. He can be reached at carl.greenberg (at) pragmatichr (dot) com.

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