Ignore! Is Social Media Hurting Your Employee Engagement?

When you think about social media in the office, the first thing that comes to mind is an employee stealing some time to check their Facebook news feed or send out a few tweets. But this certainly isn’t the only form social media is taking in the workplace, thank goodness.

While employees using social media might seem like a productivity drain, sometimes it can lead to greater employee engagement and information sharing. It depends heavily on how your office chooses to utilize social media tools. 

It’s clear your company ignores social media at its own risk. While lost productivity and disengagement costs the U.S. economy $370 billion every year, a 2008 study by The Aberdeen Group showed social media tools in the workplace can actually lead to an 18 percent improvement in employee engagement.

Compare this number to the 1 percent increase in employee engagement for companies without social media tools, and you can see social media can actually be more than an office distraction. This might be why 39 percent of companies (as of 2011) have embraced social media technology to engage with employees.

Instead of viewing social media as a way employees goof off when you’re not looking, here are some ways to use social media in your enterprise in order to increase both productivity and employee engagement:

Share Knowledge
Social media can be a great tool for sharing knowledge internally and helping current employees learn new things from coworkers. Social media tools can be used to create question and answer documents as well as company wikis everyone in your workforce can access. Just like Wikipedia is a great place for common Internet users to share their knowledge, your company can establish a wiki where employees can add and develop an ongoing, evergreen source of information and training.

By encouraging workers to share their knowledge, employees can become more connected to each other and more engaged in the company. Your company is empowering workers to share their expertise and grow their knowledge.

Connect Across Distances
Internal social networks can keep even disparate branches of the company in contact with each other on a more consistent basis than face-to-face meetings or teleconferences. It can be tough to get everyone in the same place at the same time, which means these big meetings are often postponed or shoved into small gaps in busy schedules.

Using social media, companies can connect across time and distances with ease. Now employees can become more engaged with even far away coworkers, leading to a greater feeling of community with the whole corporation.

Finding Talent
Social networks from Facebook to Twitter can actually help employers find the best talent and engage with them online. Many candidates take to the Internet to share advice, thought leadership, and submit video resumes for open positions.

Your company can use these networks to develop a talent pipeline to quickly source candidates for future open positions.Then, when the perfect fit comes along you can invite the talent you’ve engaged with on social channels to speak with you in a video interview.

Is the new reality of increasing social media technology hurting your company’s employee engagement? It might in fact be doing the opposite!

What are some ways your company uses social media to improve employee engagement? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by ivanpw