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Five Tips for Companies Dealing with Social Media Oversharing

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Social media sharing has changed almost every aspect of the workplace. Acting as the great equalizer, employees may have just as much visibility on the web (and sometimes more) as their employer.

Now that younger workers are entering the workforce – a generation that grew up with these social media tools and personal transparency as the norm – HR departments that have traditionally kept a tight lid on sensitive information are faced with a new challenge: how to keep confidential and proprietary information under wraps.

Now more than ever, employers need to have a plan in place to deal with office gossip and complaints that, in the past, were confined to the relative obscurity of the break room. These rumors and gripes can now go viral, impacting a company’s reputation – and perhaps even their bottom line.

So what can companies do to prepare themselves for online oversharing? In a recent article I wrote for Software Advice, an internet company that advises HR professionals on which software applications are best for their needs, I outline five strategies businesses can employ to stay on top of the online conversation below.

1. Be Aware

The first step to managing employees’ behavior on the web is to know what’s going on. It’s human nature to want to learn as much as possible about the things that affect you—and workplace issues fundamentally affect us all. But while salary, health benefits, relocation benefits and inter-office politics used to occur within company walls, on company time, these conversations now often go public through online media.

2. Have Departments Collaborate to Monitor the Conversation

Once you’re aware what is taking place on the web, your company should outline a game plan for addressing issues. Foraging into social media without proper experience or knowledge is a bad idea, and those departments with more communications savvy should collaborate with those that have less. Social media monitoring is a great opportunity for the HR and communications (or marketing) departments to work together.

3. Look for Patterns and Address Issues Accordingly

Identifying common types of conversations and complaints can help you figure out employees’ main concerns so you can take steps to resolve them.

Having a broad view of the conversation can also help HR managers identify trouble spots in the company and give management teams real-time feedback on workforce issues, which is a great tool for tweaking policies and mitigating any discontent.

4. Develop and Execute a Social Media Policy

A good social media policy will remove any guesswork when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be shared on social media, and remind employees why certain things should remain private.

5. Create Layers of Transparency

The million dollar question is whether or not social media and oversharing will push companies to be more transparent. The answer is yes—both internally and externally.

As we continue to move forward into the digital age with employees who demand open lines of communication, HR managers will have to take a good, hard look at corporate culture. Is it shifting? Are employees’ needs changing? Most importantly, is HR changing with them? Sometimes it’s easier to tune out the noise. But the reality is that the world is changing quickly, and companies that are open and engaged will have a distinct competitive advantage, especially as it pertains to recruitment and retention.

Paige Holden is the Director of Communications at XONEX Relocation Services. She is also the lead editor and regular blogger for Mastering Mobility: HR’s Guide to Relo. She is responsible for all print and digital communications at XONEX, including social media management.

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