Innovative social media tools, such as discussion boards on which managers can “rant” about a certain topic or development within an organisation can be an effective communication tool, an expert on organisational communication has advised.
Using social media as a means for open discussion on topics which can be sensitive can be cheaper and a more effective way of breaking down communication barriers and improving employee engagement.
“Many companies are afraid to deal with what is top of mind with employees,” said Kathryn Yates, global head of communication consulting with Watson Wyatt. “Companies which are the most effective as far as communication is concerned have the courage to address the changes that are taking place with employees.”
And, according to Yates, this can be done in the form of innovative social media tools such as discussion boards. One example Yates gave was a discussion board set up by a global company which was about to undertake its first workplace reduction. It was set up on the company’s secure manager communication portal and it was entitled “rant.” The idea was that managers could voice and discuss their concerns, encouraging open communication and a solution-driven environment.
“It was a courageous move, and while the first couple of posts may have caused senior managers to take a deep breath, the monitoring people stayed silent and what they found was that the managers across the globe began to have a conversation and support each other,” said Yates.
A recent study by Watson Wyatt has shown that 78 per cent of companies say they are increasing electronic communication and moving away from print communication because it is a very expensive option for employers,
“That example is a great example of a company who could have pulled all their managers together in very expensive face-to-face meeting, or they could have produced print or other tool kits and shipped them around the world. But what they did do was used effective electronic media and, in particular, the discussion board for managers to support one another.”