Stan Lepeak, Global Research Director, KPMG LLP Advisory
The use of social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn®, blogs) is already pervasive in most organizations globally, whether management, communications, risk management, and human resources (HR) groups like it or not. Too many organizations, however, are reactive, dismissive and in some cases naively unrealistic, about the potential benefits and risks of employees’ personal and professional use of social media and the ability of the organization to control its usage.
The HR group is in a position to meaningfully help, or significantly hinder, an organization’s beneficial use of social media. Organizations that reap the greatest benefits from social media are those that empower key employees to become evangelists for the organization on social media platforms, helping customers, building the brand, attracting talent, and giving a personal face to the organization. In addition to the external advantages, these key social media leaders become even more engaged and personally bonded to the organization, its mission, and goals, if done correctly. The HR group can, and should, take a lead in defining and driving this strategy in the organization.
Social media leadership can come from anywhere in the organization, from interns, to line personnel, to managers, to product leaders, to executives. Social media is well established as a consumer and brand oriented set of tools, but organizations need to tailor its usage to their style, culture, industry, and risk profile. Organizations can also leverage social media as a means to improve internal collaboration, communication, and operational efficiency and effectiveness.
An organization that thoughtfully embraces social media can realize opportunities across four key areas:
1) Collaboration: Constant, transparent, and effective collaboration with employees, customers, and supply and service chain partners
2) Talent management: Top performance delivered through robust and real-time training, development, and support
3) Administration: Employee-centric HR operations, regardless of where employees are in the world or organization hierarchy
4) Employee engagement: Single, unified culture with engaged employees driving business success
While social media policy creation has challenges, it is not so different from previous challenges such as the adoption of corporate-wide e-mail in the 1990s or organizations’ usage of the Internet as a communications medium. Organizations need to create a social media governance body of key stakeholders. This would typically include a cross-functional representation of IT, legal, HR, compliance, marketing, and risk management that reviews current and planned use of social media against current communications-related policies. It is important to have HR and Legal involved in this discussion to make sure the emerging policies strike an appropriate balance between workplace and personal use, while maintaining some level of corporate oversight.
The forums created to consider social media use in the workplace should strive to provide policies that are enforceable, while being absolutely clear on what is mandatory and what the consequences are for noncompliance. These policies should result in guidelines that easily create awareness and understanding of an organization’s position on social media adoption. An organization’s specific framework is successful if it can demonstrate that it has been effective in building organizational knowledge of the benefits and risks of social media, and is supported through ongoing tailored communication and training.
Social media’s usage and importance, especially to younger generations of employees and customers, will only continue to grow. Therefore, it is critical for organizations to try and get ahead of the curve in terms of defining an optimal strategy and engagement mode for social media. The HR group is in a great position to help this effort and demonstrate a tangible means through which it can deliver strategic value to the organization.
Hear more about issues related to Human Resources by visiting KPMG’s HR Center of Excellence and by listening to the KPMG Advisory Institute podcasts Data-Driven Human Resources, Eradicating the Stigma: HR’s Future, and Rethinking Human Resources in a Changing World.