After attending the CIPD Scotland Centenary Conference in Glasgow and listening to the cases of social media successes and failures, Solve. were interested to find out if social media is viewed as a risk or a valuable communication tool by Business Owners, HR Professionals and Managers across Scotland.
We have also seen a rise in the number of enquiries to our team about supporting social media challenges and there have been many cases recently that highlight the perils of social media, such as employees being dismissed on the grounds of bullying and harassment for making inappropriate and disparaging comments on Facebook and cases involving the sharing of sensitive company information on sites such as LinkedIn.
All that got us thinking, how many businesses are integrating social media into their communication and engagement strategy and how secure are business policies on social media usage and the consequences? We also wanted to know if HR teams were implementing social media strategies and if so were they purely about mitigating risk to the business or was it about being proactive and adopting social media as a communication and engagement tool.
We decided to send out a social media survey to over 100 CIPD Scotland Centenary Conference delegates from a cross section of business sectors.
The results demonstrated that whilst most survey participants used sites such as LinkedIn (92%) and Facebook (80%) for personal usage, only 20% of businesses use it to engage and communicate with employees. However, our social media survey found that 72% of participants rated Social Media highly as a tool to be embraced by businesses to engage and communicate. This highlights a fantastic opportunity for HR professionals and Business Owners alike.
The few that do utilise social media as a communication tool mainly use Facebook and LinkedIn with Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Mail being the most popular features.
For the businesses that don’t use social media (72%) there were a variety of different reasons stated for not using it to engage with employees such as: organisation being too small, viewed as inappropriate, prefer to keep personal and work lives separate, preferring other internal forms of communication such as emails, meetings, intranet, etc. Others, however, did state that they simply hadn’t implemented it yet as they were still unsure of the whys and hows, but could see the benefits of using it to engage with their employees.
As an external communication tool social media appears to be positively embraced as 84% of our survey participants use social media to engage with customers with the most commonly used being Twitter (85%), Facebook (70%), LinkedIn (65%) and YouTube (25%).
Over a third of the survey’s participants had dealt with issues within the workplace caused by social media. There were a variety of issues raised such as inappropriate messages and photos being shared in the workplace, disparaging comments being made on Facebook about employees or the company and personal relationships becoming public. There was one instance where and entire team’s dynamic was upset as a result of inappropriate photos and comments being posted after a team social event, this resulted in friction within the team and subsequently affected productivity.
Overall the survey’s participants’ main concerns around social media were that there is a lack of control, can damage reputations, misuse of company time, commercial risks, bullying and harassment and an increase in ER issues. One participant commented that “the whole thing is a minefield” as it is hard to police efficiently. The need, therefore, for the implementation of a robust social media policy has become more apparent. When asked if they have an appropriate social media policy 76% of the survey’s participants stated that they had one in place with around half of those having a policy that covers usage in and out of the workplace. Less than a third felt fully confident about handling a social media complaint. Again highlighting the need for a robust social media policy within the workplace.
What’s clear is that social media is here to stay! Whether you view it as a risk or a valuable tool one thing is certain: it needs to be managed and controlled effectively. Businesses need to consider the implications that social media can have on the working environment, HR function and employee performance.
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