Social Media Is the New Water Cooler

While the executive suite often thinks of culture as a top-down initiative that can be easily updated and rolled-out, the fact is front-line associates are often responsible for creating the external and recognizable culture for customers and clients. Through their constant face-to-face interactions and social networking as a majority of the team, front-line associates are the ones who are most memorable, and who make lasting impressions. It makes sense that these front-line workers are the ones your potential top-tier talents are monitoring for answers about your culture.

Today’s potential applicants and sought-after recruits are searching brand hashtags and employee posts to get a feeling of what’s really happening behind the glossy doors of your company, and they’re also finding answers on Quora and Glassdoor. If you haven’t already conducted a social media culture audit for your brand, then you’re missing out on the conversation that determines the quality of your applicants, because smart and proactive people are quickly eliminating weak cultures and disengaged peer teams from their dream list of employers.

Here are a few tips to get your first social media culture audit up-and-running:

  • Designate a liaison between social media and HR for cross-functional collaboration on recruitment efforts and employer brand monitoring.
  • Actively monitor relevant hashtags, as well as specifically monitoring popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and industry-relevant message boards.
  • Note your company’s positive and negative power players and try to uncover their real identities (not for retribution, but to have honest conversations).

Get your employee evangelists engaged in your social media recruitment efforts, either formally or informally. Gather their insights on positive things that are happening so you know where to focus your social-HR campaigns. Encourage evangelists to refer friends for open positions and to continue sharing and amplifying the company’s positive aspects.

Create an open, honest dialogue with each of your vocal, unhappy employees to uncover problems and potential solutions. Make sure negative employees feel heard so they don’t take the conversation to digital outlets.

For anonymous posters (such as on Glassdoor), enlist your communications and PR team members to craft thoughtful, compassionate responses that are true but positive. Make a point to respond to all employee feedback within 24 hours, because you would do that for your external customers, and your internal customers are just as important if not more so.

A popular method to take employee conversations off of mainstream social networking sites is to create a community utilizing Slack, Facebook groups, or another private communication platform. Simply making employees feel heard goes a long way to improve engagement and positivity.

Another idea to bolster positive employee engagement across social networks is to create internal contests for employees who share/like/retweet/comment on your posts. A $20 Starbucks gift card by email for the person who shares a company post and receives the most likes within 24 hours doesn’t cost the company much, but it helps to get employees involved and informed about external company messaging.

In sum, annual employee surveys (that are conducted shortly after the annual company party) are no longer the pulse of your team’s happiness and engagement. Today, the water cooler where employees gather to gossip is on social networks. If you want to understand what your team is thinking and sharing about your brand, then you have to engage them where they gather.

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