Social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are all the rage – there’s no escaping them, they’re everywhere – even in the workplace, and whether you like it or not, they’re not going away.
Here at the CK Group, we are passionate about social media and the benefits it can bring to your business. We are strong believers that social media can be an invaluable tool in not only attracting and recruiting staff but also in retaining them. From our experience, when it comes to social media, staff retention is often an area which is overlooked and under utilised. In fact, a survey conducted by Melcrum, found that of 2,600 respondents, only 11% said they had used social media to the benefit of their HR Department (Personnel Today, 2010)[i].
We think HR departments are missing a trick here, so in a bid to gauge the use of social media in HR employee retention schemes, between October 2010 and February 2011, the CK Group surveyed 87 HR professionals and 60 employees. We wanted to find out if and how social media is being integrated into employee retention schemes nationwide.
So let’s start with the basics. We all know that critical to organisational success is keeping your best employees, plain and simple. But in today’s market the harsh reality is that top talent is hard to come by, and holding on to them is definitely not as easy as it used to be.
Why not use every tool available to help ensure this happens? This is where social media can play a starring role in your employee retention strategy. After all, with so many of our employees engaging in social networking during work hours, 81.6% according to our survey, why is it that only an abysmal 10.7% of respondents stated that they use social media as part of their employee retention strategy– surely this is a missed opportunity?
Perhaps you don’t know where to start or you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of venturing into the realms of social networking? Well here are seven practical tips to help you get started:
1. Don’t assume the worst:
It is so important that as employers we understand why and how our staff use social media whilst at work. Do not automatically presume they are using it to chat away to friends or to bad-mouth your company. Have you ever considered that they might actually be using it to perform more productively in their jobs? For example, they might be blogging about your products, trying to reach elusive customers or exchanging information with industry experts.
So whatever you do, don’t assume the worst and don’t ban social networking sites all together. By banning every site, you’re ultimately telling your employees that you have no trust in them and nothing will push your employees further away from your organisation than this.
2. Encourage your employees to establish and actively maintain their social networks:
Actively encourage your employees to establish, maintain and build their social networks – you want them to communicate a personal brand that is a reflection of their role within your organisation but also them as an individual.
The key here is to avoid implementing pointless rules:
- Don’t insist that employees have separate personal and professional networking accounts – this is simply impractical.
- Do allow employees to state their job title and company information on their Facebook profiles, after all it is part of their identity and will automatically feel more connected and loyal to their organisation by broadcasting this information.
By giving your staff this freedom, you will directly enhance the pride they take in their work, and thus the loyalty they feel towards the organisation.
3. Communication should come from the top:
Social media and internal blogging is a great way for Executives to communicate their vision and aspirations for the company – sharing their passions will help to motivate and retain your talented employees.
Communicating from the top using social media may also help to erase those hierarchical differences that undoubtedly exist and help to bring everyone to the same level. It will also make employees feel that they are being heard and valued.
Why not try using podcasts or micro blogging platforms such as Yammer to help broadcast communication from the top?
4. Create alumni networks:
The concept of employee alumni networks isn’t a new fad – they’ve been around for donkey’s years and can be an extremely valuable retention resource for your company. After all, just because employees may have left your organisation, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t still loyal.
All too often, it is employees or ex-employees that are driving this effort and not the company, this is a fundamental mistake. If you as a company haven’t already set them up, you’re missing a trick. It’s easy enough to do – just take a look at AstraZeneca’s Alumni Network on Linkedin.
5. Ideas sharing:
It’s a fact that actively involving your staff in decision making will increase your chances of holding onto your top talent.
Using social media is a great way to do this – it will get your staff talking, and most importantly sharing ideas with one another. The information nature of social networking platforms mean that employees may feel more free to openly brainstorm ideas without feeling that they are being watched or scrutinized.
An example of a company that have got this down to a tee is Kraft Foods. In 2009 Kraft decided their company needed a little facelift. As with any company, Kraft were aware that their employees are the people that knew their brand best. Therefore, in a bid to generate ideas, the company implemented an internal social networking tool in order for employees to submit their ideas.
In order to cultivate ideas sharing and ultimately increase your employee retention, you need to stop meticulously controlling your employees use of social media and start concentrating on how you can set up online ideas forums, or maybe start a conversation via Twitter.
6. Give your employees the freedom to express their creativity:
Encouraging creativity is key to employee retention. It sounds obvious, but your employees really need to enjoy their jobs in order for them to stay loyal to your organisation. So stifling creativity in the workplace is a big no no.
A great way to get those creative juices flowing and really create a buzz in the workplace is to use Youtube.
A great example of this in action is the Deloitte Film Festival. The organisers asked employees to create short videos in response to the question, ‘What’s your Deloitte?’ Employees were allowed to work in teams of 1 to 7 people to make videos reflecting their experiences of working for Deliotte. An impressive 400 submissions were received with 2,000 people taking part [ii]. The channel has had over 400,000 views and 33% of staff reported they felt more loyalty to the company as a result. So why not give it a go?
7. Give your company culture some oomph!
You can use social media to do this. A great illustration of this is the clothing retailer Zappos’ innovative use of Twitter. 300 of their employees are active users of Twitter, and the company are passionate that it helps employees get to know each other in a different way than they would within the workplace, therefore creating a more positive friendly culture. After all, friendship and camaraderie between employees is one thing that will definitely keep them sticking around for longer. They even hold Twitter classes to help their employees get started.
Whichever way you look at it, social media is revolutionising the ways in which businesses are run and how we communicate. So like it or lump it, we all need to learn to love it. Fact.
Using social media to retain your best talent may seem like an uphill struggle – but, as with any other tool, when it comes to social media – you really do get out what you put in.
As we have illustrated, major companies are already harnessing the opportunity that social media can bring in terms of employee retention. But our survey highlights a distinct lack of uptake with the companies we surveyed, with only 10.7% stating that social media was part of their employee retention strategy.
So, if your company is in the same boat, we strongly recommend that you get involved now. Social media is nothing to be afraid of – it’s affordable and effective and we hope that these simple tips will help you keep hold of your best talent. Go on, give it a go, we dare you.