giving employees a voice

For many in the ‘Millennial Generation’ – those who’ve entered the world of work since 2000 – using social media is as natural as breathing or eating. Millennials expect to use social media just as much in the workplace as they do in their private lives. In a survey by Cisco of 2,800 college students and professionals, 66% said they would rather be without a car than the internet and 40% would rather accept a lower paid job if the position offered greater flexibility and access to social media.

So it is essential that organisations harness the Millennials’ skills, enthusiasm and power for the good of the business. Empowering employees – essentially giving them a voice – leads to a more collaborative approach to working (internally and externally with customers or professional networks), better employee engagement and benefits in recruitment.

When giving employees a voice it is vital that senior management accepts the benefits of social media and are confident their employees will use it constructively. It’s essential they understand how those benefits relate to their organisation and some hands-on experience of using the various platforms is invaluable in increasing senior management’s understanding of social media capabilities.

As Kate Rose of social media agency Rose McGrory says: “If empowering your employees to be ambassadors for your organisation – and making sensible decisions without micromanagement brings you out in a sweat – one way or another, that will need to be addressed.”

One approach could be to appoint a social media manager to represent the organisation or, perhaps, encourage several key staff members to have an active professional online presence. To make authentic connections with the target audience, internally or externally, they must be empowered to express their own personalities and opinions.

Kate Rose explains there’s a challenge in helping whoever is representing an organisation online to be confident in finding its own voice. But she adds: “Most importantly, content authored ‘by committee’ just won’t resonate with individual users. Social media are primarily about individual, one-to-one interactions, but with a public dimension.”

Who owns the social media message?

Many organisations encourage their employees to use their individual social media presence to add weight to company messages. Each staff member is given guidelines but it’s the employee and not the organisation who controls the message.

Many organisations, including Randstad, take the view that if you want employees to take responsibility for their actions and behaviour, you must do the same when it comes to social media.

As an enlightened employer, Randstad provides guidance, regular advice and training and does spot checks from time to time, but believes monitoring every social media account would neither be efficient nor effective.

Standardised statements or messages are used sparingly – fewer people are inclined to use social media if there are too many – although advice on writing messages and attracting interest is given to employees.

Employees are expected to update their LinkedIn profiles when they join Randstad and they are also advised to keep professional and personal social media accounts separate.

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