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Employee activism and social media

Michelle-Hicks_CMYK_Your employees are talking about you. Whether they say good or bad things, they’re not just saying them to their friends. They often broadcast their thoughts, experiences and feelings through Twitter, Facebook or social media sites designed to tell the real story of what it’s like to work for companies, like Glassdoor.

Many companies understand the importance of managing their brand identity through social media and have invested in systems, processes and people to stay on top of and even influence social media chatter about their products or services. But in order to keep your talent in place and attract new, desirable folks to come through your front door, you need to pay attention to your employment brand, too. One way to do this is turn your current employees into your employee brand advocates. But the job isn’t easy. It takes an intentional effort on the part of your organization, according to consulting firms Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, who recently published finding on this topic.

These two organizations found 39 percent of surveyed employees have shared positive comments online about their employer, while just 16 percent have shared criticism or negative online comments. Just think how many more positive posts you could get if you nudged more of your employees to actively get online and tell your story.

The study found strong leadership to be one of the greatest drivers of employee activism. When employees feel like their employer values their ideas and opinions and believe their leaders make their company a great place to work, they have a strong propensity to tell others. Other organizational drivers of employee activism include a strong internal communication function, employee opportunities to learn and grow, and a diverse workforce with a commitment to social responsibility.

The bad news for employers is that the researchers found most organizations have a lot of work to do before they’ll get a high score on any of these employee activism drivers. Employers are going to need to take action and make organizational commitments of money and resources to move the needle.

So, if enhancing your employment reputation isn’t enough to motivate you to take action in organizing your employee activists, then think about how employee activism impacts employee engagement. When employees are actively communicated to and organized to sing their employer’s praises, they are engaged. And Gallup research shows increased engagement leads to higher earnings per share.

As the authors of the report say, employee activism is a movement that employers can’t stop. What they can do is get ahead of it. Invest in understanding where your employees are in terms of current engagement and their propensity to get out into social communities and talk about you as an employer or your products and services. Then, take action through leadership development, internal communication and other avenues to help all employees take ownership of their positive activism potential. Remember, they will be out there being active — you can help them feel good about actively talking about you and saying the good things you want your customers and potential employees to know.

Michelle Hicks, a senior professional in human resources, is a director in the engagement practice of Buck Consultants, a Xerox company.


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One comment

  1. Spot on. If you want to attract top talent, you have to be aware of your social reputation. Its easy to find and it can make or break your recruiting efforts. It will require a paradigm shift for many small business owners to accept that social media is here to stay and you will have to engage on some level. Great post.