The following is a guest post from Paige Holden. She is the Director of Communications for XONEX Relocation and Holman Moving Systems. She is also the lead editor and regular blogger for Mastering Mobility: HR’s Guide to Relo. This article was originally written for Software Advice, a company that reviews and recommends HRIS solutions to companies seeking to streamline their HR functions.
And now that younger workers are entering the workforce–a generation that grew up with these social media tools and personal transparency as the norm–HR departments that have traditionally kept a tight lid on sensitive information are faced with a new challenge: how to keep confidential and proprietary information under wraps.
Now more than ever, employers need to have a plan in place to deal with office gossip and complaints that, in the past, were confined to the relative obscurity of the break room. These rumors and gripes can now go viral, impacting a company’s reputation–and perhaps even their bottom line.
So what can companies do to prepare themselves for online oversharing? I’ve outlined five strategies businesses can employ to stay on top of the online conversation:
1. Be Aware
The first step to managing social media behavior is to know that Pandora’s box has been opened. Conversations that used to happen at the water cooler are absolutely happening online today. It’s human nature to want to learn as much as possible about the things that affect you—and workplace issues fundamentally affect us all, in different ways, every day. Salary, health benefits, relocation benefits and inter-office politics are ripe for discussion and debate.
Often, the knee-jerk reaction is to over-regulate, but this can square companies against employees’ freedom of speech—a losing battle from both a legal and reputational perspective.
2. Have Departments Collaborate to Monitor the Conversation
Foraging into social media without proper experience or knowledge is a bad idea. If companies want to have a larger and more influential presence on the web, departments should collaborate for optimal results. Social media monitoring is a great opportunity for the HR and communications (or marketing) departments to work together.
3. Look for Patterns and Address Issues Accordingly
Identifying common types of conversations and complaints can help you figure out employees’ main concerns so you can take steps to resolve them.
Having a broad view of the conversation can also help HR managers identify trouble spots in the company and give management teams real-time feedback on workforce issues, which is a great tool for tweaking policies and mitigating any discontent.
4. Develop and Execute a Social Media Policy
A good social media policy will remove any guesswork when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be shared on social media, and remind employees why certain things should remain private.
5. Create Layers of Transparency
The million dollar question is whether or not social media and oversharing will push companies to be more transparent. The answer is yes—both internally and externally.
As we continue to move forward into the digital age with employees who demand open lines of communication, HR managers will have to take a good, hard look at corporate culture. Is it shifting? Are employees’ needs changing? Most importantly, is HR changing with them? Sometimes it’s easier to tune out the noise. But the reality is that the world is changing quickly, and companies that are open and engaged will have a distinct competitive advantage, especially as it pertains to recruitment and retention.
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