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How Social Are You?

 

As technology increasingly penetrates every aspect of our working lives, there have been terabytes of text written about the importance, value and sheer ubiquity of social media in the workplace.

But, has it really arrived or is all this just a combination of stories about employees tweeting about poor management and HR directors being told they MUST have a social media policy in place…?

A recent CIPD report looks at the reality of how we are using social media in business and finds that the true picture is perhaps slightly different to how it has been portrayed.

Communication

Social media activity is touted as the latest communications ‘must-do’ both in terms of marketing to customers and social collaboration between employees.

But opinion seems a little divided on how effective it is in this respect: 49% of respondents agreed that it helps get the right information to the right people BUT 48% thought it produced information overload.

Possibly due to the scattergun approach many businesses take to their Facebook and Twitter posts?

Networking

There was general agreement that social media creates connection where there would otherwise be none.

But apparently the focus is still very much on employees linking up with people outside of their organisation which suggests that the potential for innovative in-company collaboration is far from being realised.

Recruitment

Predictably, this seems to be the one of the more common functions of social media with more than half of employers using it as part of their job-filling strategy.

Job seekers also, with 11% of them finding a job through this route.

And both employers and employees use social media to check each other out.

Employee Voice

When organisations set up their internal social networks, it’s often with the intention of breaking down barriers between management and workers and creating better quality communication.

The reality is a little different.

Certainly, social media makes it easier to seek the views of your workforce but it seems that those views are no more likely to be listened to than in a ‘non-social’ workplace.

Learning & Development

With all the buzz around “social learning” you would imagine the bandwagon to have a full complement of passengers.

But barely more than a fifth of respondents said their employer uses social media to deliver any sort of formal learning.

Of course, more difficult to quantify and track are the benefits of the informal learning that occurs from the web of social connections.

Taking into account the size of organisation doesn’t appear to make too much difference.

Although it is notable that smaller employers (particularly the micro businesses with fewer than ten employees) are more likely to have embraced social media; mostly to build an external profile and reputation and communicate with customers/clients.

So, although the much-trumpeted social media business revolution is taking place, it doesn’t seem to be quite as rapid or widespread as commentators would have us believe.

Put it this way, if you’ve yet to take the plunge and are worried about feeling left behind…, you haven’t been.

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