In this SMinOrgs S.M.A.R.T. Blog guest post, Jerry Carducci offers his thoughts on the future of the social workplace. Building on the ideas in the latest S.M.A.R.T. News Digest – Social Media and the Workplace - What’s In Store for 2012? – he anticipates the impact of new digital technologies on organizational culture, employer branding, consumer listening, and organizational policies.
As a follower of social media in the workplace, one thing remains clear: many organizational leaders are still apprehensive about social media’s potential to enhance operational effectiveness, increase stakeholder value and engage employees.
We’ve seen how the global community used social media to connect and gain support for humanitarian and political issues. What if your organization could generate that same strength of internal community to enhance its value propositions for current and future stakeholders? What if your organization could unleash its hidden talents and creativity through an open, engaging and collaborative environment that increases value and competitive advantage?
Looking at 2012 and beyond, more organizations will start using social media as a way to optimize the power of consumer-based networks to increase productivity, communications and collaboration. We should see changes in four core areas:
- The “Social Workplace.” The “social workplace” constitutes the next generation of organizational change, combining social technical tools, culture and physical design to enhance communications and create a structure that is flexible, collaborative and connected to the organization’s mission, values and goals. Geneca, an IT consultancy in Chicago, provides one example of how this can be done (see: Corporate Culture Meets the Digital Era).
- “Employer Branding.” Employer branding connects the organization to the talent market by providing not only a realistic view of the culture, expectations and work-life within the organization, but also the social and community involvement aspects. Organizations will begin to heighten their focus on employer branding through LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to create a community of followers and attract the right talent. Involvement will grow to extend beyond Human Resource roles to include front line leaders and employees in all functional areas.
(Editor’s note: for more on social media and recruiting, see Recruiting in the Digital Era: Updated Guidance for Employers, Recruiters, and Candidates).
- “Social Listening.” Consumer review sites are replacing formal “Focus Groups” in providing continuous qualitative feedback. Social listening represents analysis of feedback from these sites and using it as a source of continuous improvement, innovation and a means to identify hidden opportunities to increase value. As a result, the role of the “social analyst” will evolve to include not only technical and intuitive analytical skills, but also product, process and internal operational savvy in aggregating, organizing and communicating information in a way that is meaningful throughout the organization.
- Formalization of Social Media Policies. As use of social media grows internally, formalization of policies, etiquette and training will become more prevalent. In her blog post entitled, A Matter of Policy: Protecting Employees and Your Brand on Social Media, Jaya Koilpillai Bohlmann provides a practical, commonsense approach.
(Editor’s note: for more on social media policies, see Social Media Policies: Necessary but Not Sufficient).
The term “Value” has evolved to represent the total experience for consumers and employees alike. And creating value in today’s environment is a strategic imperative, requiring organizations to be continuously connected, engaging and transparent in ways that generate loyalty and a positive experience. Social media provides the means to establish the necessary formal and informal connections.
However, understanding how social media can change the way an enterprise does business and engages employees is a complex undertaking. Leaders must fully understand their culture, mission and value system – and how their organization really works. Most importantly, they must select the right social media platforms to support and achieve their organization’s objectives.
Gerald E. (Jerry) Carducci is the President of Carducci & Associate,; an organizational consultancy that helps small and mid-sized businesses energize their workplaces through a supportive culture and progressive people practices. He is a widely published author and guest editor for the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) S.M.A.R.T. Blog, where he explores the use of social media as a means to enhance internal communication, collaboration and processes. He is also a frequent guest on WGN Radio.