It’s an all too familiar refrain from HR professionals – employees missing response deadlines, asking why and when their benefits were changed, and getting upset about “new” policies. But you know that you’ve sent out a number of communications and done everything short of putting the employees in a closet and forcing them to fill out the required form or read the information.
I can’t promise you it will result in 100 percent participation, but one new trick you may want to try is social media.
“Social media?” you say. “Isn’t that just for people sharing their photos and the endless details of their monotonous lives?”
Well, yes, and no, but that really is the point. The key to communicating to an audience is to talk to them where they are, and it is highly likely that many of your employees are using social media. So how can you take advantage of the huge growth in social media usage to improve the responsiveness of your employees to important HR requests?
The first suggestion is to ask employees if they use social media and if so, what websites they most often utilize.
If most of your employees are not social media users, or if the ratio is around 50/50 but you really want to try something new, your best bet is to set up an employee communications blog. This will give you the ability to communicate the messages you’d like to send and to encourage the interaction of employees through commenting.
The process of setting up a blog can move quickly and easily, especially if you use one of the more common free platforms like WordPress or Blogger. You’ll want to privatize your blog if you only want those within your company to have access. Or you may want to show the world what a great company you have, which is the approach that Zappos.com takes.
Of course, the most popular social media platform right now is Facebook. Knowing that Facebook has such a large number of active participants may push you in the direction of setting up a corporate page for your employees. Setting up the page can be done quite quickly.
Keep two things in mind– your employees may not feel comfortable linking their private profiles to a corporate page, and you will have to adjust the privacy settings of your Facebook page if you only want employees to view it.
Another social media platform that may be more appropriate for your HR goals is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is most often thought of as the more professional social network. Through LinkedIn, you can set up a group that requires approval to join and invite employees. You can set your group up to automatically send e-mails when you’ve posted information, either discussions or news.
Twitter is another alternative you may want to consider. Setting up accounts on Twitter is easy, and you can protect your tweets. For your employees to receive the information you send, they will have to follow you. The challenge for communications using Twitter may be the 140-character limit per tweet. You could consider using it as a way to get the word out about a new post to your blog or Facebook page.
You may want to start by dipping your toe in one of these alternatives as a way to support the methods you already use, or you may be ready to completely transition. Either way it will be important that you fully research and understand the new platform you choose to use, whether it be a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or one of the many other alternatives.
Are you considering using social media for employee communications? What advantages and/or disadvantages do you see? If you’ve already implemented a social media platform, please let us know your thoughts on how it is working.