At a time when more companies than ever before are requiring their employees to work from home or in other remote locations, it’s perhaps not surprising that these same employees are also embracing social media as a way to recreate the types of interactions and experiences they might have found in a real-world, physical office. In other words, the office water cooler has been replaced by Facebook, with employees hanging out on social media to catch up on the latest office gossip, as well as to keep abreast of current company news and projects.
The pros and cons of social media
There are some obvious advantages here of social media in the workplace. The most important of these is greater collaboration with other team members and even a new sense of bonding with team members. (Hey, we’re all in this together, right?) And social media is also helping to unlock other types of innovation (such as social selling) that might not have been possible before. If you’re looking to line up new clients and partners, but can’t meet in-person or face-to-face, then it makes sense that you should now be using platforms like LinkedIn to connect with these clients and partners.
However, there is a downside to all this additional social media use beyond just lost productivity. According to the latest research from Harvard Business Review, for example, social media usage can have a serious negative impact on employee retention. That’s because all of this expanded use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can incentivize employees to start searching for new job opportunities. And, even if they are not actively looking for a new job or role, they will be much more open to passive job opportunities that come their way. The grass is always greener on the other side, and if you hear about a company that seems to be doing well in these uncertain times, you might just be tempted to find out more about them.
Social media and employee retention, by the numbers
The Harvard Business Review research, authored by Cal State Fullerton assistant professor Lorenzo Bizzi, supports this finding with plenty of numbers. For example, he found that 76 percent of employees using social media for work also took an interest in organizations they found on social media. Makes sense, right? If you’re looking for new sales leads, and happen to stumble upon a fast-growing company that seems to have put coronavirus pandemic concerns behind them, wouldn’t you want to research them further? Moreover, the study found that employees using social media for work were significantly more likely than their peers to make new connections with employees in other organizations and to use social media as the centerpiece of their job search activities. All of that makes them much more likely to head for the exit door.
How to boost employee retention
So what can be done to combat this negative impact on job retention? One of the most important things that you can do as an organization is to make sure that you are setting up internal social media groups that focus on collaboration and innovation. The more that you can make your workplace a dynamic and vibrant environment, the better. Show that management is open to new ideas from unfamiliar places. This helps to kill the whole “the grass is always greener on the other side” problem by presenting your workplace as a very interesting place to be at the moment.
Another step that you can take is to use social media to showcase the achievements of your workers and shine a spotlight on employees who have really become superstars during the coronavirus pandemic. By sharing employee success stories and recognizing them for doing great work, you are going to be boosting morale while simultaneously helping to ensure that employees aren’t searching for new jobs in their free time. We all like to feel special and supported by management, but unfortunately, thanks and appreciation are often in short supply. So why not recognize the guys and girls on your IT team who helped to put together Zoom conference calls for your organization, or the rising superstars in your sales department who are absolutely killing it with their new social selling initiative? If you’re sending out an internal company e-newsletter, this is quick and easy to do.
In short, you don’t need big-time money from a PPP loan to turn social media into a positive rather than a negative. Stop thinking of social media as a productivity killer, or as a negative impact on employee retention. Instead, think of it as a quick, easy and low-cost solution for boosting motivation, inspiration, collaboration and innovation in the workplace. Become the organization that other employees want to join, not the one that employees are looking to leave, and you’ll see a huge impact on your company’s bottom line.