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Can social business tools help create happier employees?
It’s an intriguing question — and an important one. According to the 2013 Gallup survey State of the American Workforce, of the approximately 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs, only 30 percent are engaged and inspired at work. If using social media can help more people feel engaged and inspired, that can only be good.
Since social media tools let employees share their ideas and connect more easily with their colleagues, intuition would say that a socially-enabled enterprise could enhance how employees feel about their workplace.
But as we caution in the 2013 social business report from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, “It may be tempting to believe that social media’s popularity outside the office will imbue efforts inside if the technology is right.” However, the report continues, “Although there may be some initial enthusiasm, it can quickly vanish.”
The report, titled the 2013 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project, goes on to explain that companies need to nurture social business technologies and practices in a systematic way.
“Businesses that are making the greatest progress toward becoming a socially connected enterprise focus rigorously on four interrelated areas: leading a social culture, measuring what matters, keeping content fresh and changing the way work gets done,” says the report.
Other researchers are also finding that goodwill toward a company and effective use of social media go hand in hand.
In their article “The Key to Social Media Success Within Organizations,” in the Fall 2012 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, associate professors of strategy Quy Huy and Andrew Shipilov, of INSEAD Singapore and INSEAD Fontainebleau, France, respectively, write: “Our findings suggest that executives who use social media to build emotional capital within their employees’ communities reap real benefits in terms of improved information flows, collaboration, lower turnover and higher employee motivation. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to grasp the crucial role of social media in building emotional capital and instead try extracting benefits from the internal use of social media before emotional capital is built.”
Huy and Shiplov suggest that companies work with leaders who other employees trust and help those people develop social media skills. Those people then can seed the internal social media communities that emphasize and build authenticity, pride, attachment and fun — the key elements of emotional capital.
“Deploy social media tools sequentially,” they write. “Start with wikis and podcasts, and roll out social networking only after enough emotional capital has been built.”