Social Media or a Higher Salary?By Lisa Skapinker on November 22, 2011 in Stats, Thought Leadership
Love it or hate it, email is the go-to method for work communications at most companies today. But this wasn’t always the case: in its early days, managers feared email. They worried employees would abuse the new form of technology and disclose confidential or embarrassing company information to the outside world. They also had concerns that email would encourage employees to socialize on the clock, and damage internal hierarchy by eroding company boundaries. In many cases, every last email was screened by HR.
Eventually, of course, companies overcame their fears and embraced the new technology. Though far from perfect, email was better than the existing technology of the time.
Today, we’ve been experiencing a deja vu moment with social media. Companies now use precisely the same justifications for blocking Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin in the office that they once used for email. Managers and HR folks worry about damaging disclosures, time-wasting, and a further breaking down of existing company hierarchies.
But the new generation of employees, a generation who has grown up with SMART boards in their classrooms and has embraced IM, wikis, and social media as a far more efficient form of communication than email are not only expecting but demanding social media access in the workplace. According to Cisco’s 2011 Connected Technology World Report, almost half of young professionals and college students would choose unrestricted access to social media at work over a higher salary.
Cisco’s report found that 40% of college students and 45% of young professionals would accept a lower-paying job that offered more freedom to use social media and mobile devices. The study also found that 56% of college students would not accept a job offer or would find a way around a policy that banned social media in the office.
The report also showed that the rising Millennial workforce is constantly linked in to their social networks, both personally and professionally. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they’d choose the Internet over a car, and 68% believe their companies should allow them to access social media and personal sites through work-issued computers and mobile devices.
So how can companies meet the needs of their Gen Y employees without risking costly information leaks or losing billable hours to tweets and status updates?
Jessica Miller-Merrell, a social media workplace expert, says with the right training, companies can employ social media to embrace their employees. “Employees are not receiving social media instruction and training,” Miller-Merrell told an audience at BrandsConf in New York.“By training and educating your workforce on the use of social media, you can set the ground work.”
In other words, instead of blocking and restricting social media sites, companies can use them to their advantage by training their employees on how to properly spread the company’s message.
Companies can also use social media internally to engage employees and create internal communities around work goals. Internal social media can not only strengthen teams but also provide clarity and encouragement, and build excitement, around work goals and objectives. In addition, internal social media can help create a better culture and a more satisfied workforce — one where people know what they’re doing, what others are doing, and why.
A decade ago, email streamlined company communications and began the process of greater transparency and accountability. Social media will bring internal communication to the next level by encouraging collaboration and feedback. And with Millennials continuing to rise rapidly within organizations, even money may not be enough to make up for blocking Facebook.