Leslie Caccamese -
June 6, 2012
Launching New Research on Social Media in the Workplace
Great Place to Work is launching an exciting new research project with the innovation consultants at Human 1.0. In the past few years, client inquiries for best practices on social media in the workplace have increased tenfold.
Do we need a social media policy? Should we restrict what our employees are allowed to say on social media? How can social media help us be more collaborative and innovative? Can we use social media to build our employment brand? How can we be successful at social media like so many of the Best Companies to Work For?
Recognizing that this is still a hot topic, we decided to turn to our audience to find out a little more about your workplace cultures and better understand how you experience your workplace, how you use social media both personally and professionally, and how the former influences the latter. Learn more in my interview with Human 1.0’s, Janet Swaysland, or click here to participate in the survey.
Q. With all the recent focus on Facebook and advertising on social networks, why the interest in what's happening inside organizations with social media?
A. Marketers have made the water safe for other parts of the organization to infuse social behavior into their business processes. At this point, leadership has seen that social media can move the needle with customers, even if there is the occasional #FAIL. Now they are turning their attention to the most important constituency of all -- their own workforce. There is enormous momentum -- investment dollars and C-suite attention -- around "intranet 2.0," and how to operationalize the benefits of social media inside the firewall as well as outside, for innovation, collaboration, employee engagement and retention. There is a growing realization that the competitive upside is huge.
Q. Yet there seems to be a fair amount of hesitation in many organizations to "unleash" their employees on social media.
A. Well, the word "unleash" in itself sounds both scary and liberating, doesn't it? Which is how most HR leadership is feeling right now. What if people say something negative about the company or one another? What if they share confidential information? What if they're just wasting time on Facebook all day? The funny thing is, this behavior has always been a risk. It's just scaled up now. And the starting point for lowering the risks is the same: sensible policies and practices that are well communicated. But that's not enough. In this case, we actually want to encourage people to engage with others, not just understand the many reasons why they shouldn't and are not allowed. Right? So the shift is to create a sharing-inspired culture and environment, not just guardrails.
Q. What hunches or hypotheses are you bringing to this study? Where does “trust” fit? What do you hope to learn?
A. The reason we came to Great Place to Work Institute is because trust is a key element for social engagement success, and Great Place to Work has built its business on helping companies evolve into ever more trust-based organizations. We believe we will see patterns in social media usage in high trust cultures that are different from low trust cultures. We're looking for connections and disconnects between what employees believe about their employers and how they see social media practices unfolding (or not.) We expect to see implications on employee passion, pride, willingness to refer others to work at their company, leadership credibility based on how employees see their employers' social media policies and practices. These insights will help companies approach internal social media in ways most likely to succeed.
Q. Human 1.0 is known for its "Tribalization of Business" study. Why "tribes" and what does "Human 1.0" mean to organizations?
A. Human 1.0 founder Francois Gossieaux and "Hyper-Social Organization" co-author coined the "human 1.0" phrase to remind us to first focus on what drives us as people, as individuals and groups, before worrying about tools, technology, and the kind of shiny objects du jour that keep people so skeptical and stressed about social media. If you understand that people are hard wired to be social -- we always have been (Human 1.0 is here to stay) -- everything gets easier. At the heart of "human 1.0" are primal desires for reciprocity (helping and being helped), recognition, being with others who share our passions, and a sense of fairness. "Tribes" are groups of people that form based on a common interest or passion rather than objective factors like gender, age, or rank in an organization, for example. Organizations that are adept at enabling the formation and collaboration of tribes to solve problems and invent new things will beat the competition.
Q. About the mechanics about the Social Workplace Trust study: Where can people find the survey, and when will the results be available?
A. We’re encouraging broad participation in the survey – employees across industries, company size, and job titles. It’s US only at this point. The link to the survey is here. We’re also conducting a series of related one-on-one interviews to provide a bit more commentary and depth. We expect to begin sharing the results mid-summer.