Social media is changing how we socialise but collaboration and social networks existed before Twitter and Facebook. A recent blog by Darcy Jacobsen offers historical examples in the arts and business where innovation came about through networks of people collaborating. Today, anyone who works in a company using emerging technology can witness this kind of networking on an everyday basis through face to face 'scrums', for example. The difference is that now employees can use social media platforms, such as Yammer, both to network with and learn from their colleagues. And this extends beyond their immediate team, even to people outside their own organisation. Despite this 59% of companies prohibit the use of internal social collaboration during working hours, according to research on social collaboration and human capital management benchmarking by Ventana Research in the US. This is despite the fact that 58 percent of organisations surveyed allow social media networks like LinkedIn to be used by employees at work. (Don't they realise their staff are probably looking for another job on LinkedIn?).
Nearly half of employers (46 per cent) discourage the use of social media to voice views about the company and one-fifth forbid it. Only 7 per cent of the businesses surveyed encourage the use of social media networks for this purpose.
And knowledge sharing is only one workplace benefit of social media. Others applications include talent management and employee engagement. Meghan M. Biro, on Forbes blog, urges employers to wake up to the reality that more communication happens through social than face to face, and follow the lead of those organisations who have embraced social media platforms.
"Social collaboration can help individuals reach their full productive potential in a different way than they might be used to. Electronic mail, for instance, might not reach the people with the answers, and also distract others from their tasks."
"From Yammer to wikis, talent management software and enterprise instant-messaging platforms like Salesforce Chat and Microsoft Lync, businesses are structuring a workplace where most interchanges are not person-to-person but are instead mediated by technology."
Biro says the issue boils down to senior managers needing to have more trust in their staff, says Biro.
"Value isn't something you get by buying technology, closing your eyes and making a wish. Value is real only if it can be measured. Further, it's arguably possible to extract value from technology only when your work culture understands and accepts the reasoning for adopting the technology, which requires employees to trust the company and its managers. Without leadership trust, in other words, value cannot be calculated."
Isn't it better to know that staff aren't happy with the way things are in the organisation, and isn't it better to try to fix the problem than ignore it.
This is part 2 of my regular round-up of HR strategy related content (you can read part 1 here). Read on for links to articles on HR data and metrics, organisational culture, innovation, corporate responsibility and sustainability.
More on social media and HR
HR data, metrics and analytics
disparity between how leaders and employees view their workplace culture.
Harrington, in HR magazine.
CSR and sustainability
HR and marketing