Employers need to wake up to social media revolution, say CIPD
A resistance to change amongst senior leaders is holding organisations back from rebuilding trust and fostering cultures of openness, collaboration and innovation in their organisations.
That's according to new CIPD research which launched at the annual Voice and Value conference at the London School of Economics last week.
The CIPD is urging employers to recognise that social media is driving us headlong into an age of mass collaboration and mass transparency, and if they don't embrace this with open arms they will find themselves on the back foot.
The research, conducted for the CIPD by Silverman Research, highlights that social media presents employers with the opportunity to truly engage their staff in shaping the future direction of their organisations. Not only does it give employees an open channel through which to feed views upwards, but it also enables greater collaboration and knowledge sharing between employees at all levels, which is how new ideas and innovation prosper. What's more, social media interactions give organisations access to a unique blend of qualitative and quantitative data that can drive greater employee and customer insight.
The report comes hot on the heels of a worrying deterioration in employee voice, recorded by the CIPD's quarterly Employee Outlook last month, and highlights that traditional employee surveys designed to give employees a voice can actually distract many leaders from listening and acting on employees' true ideas and concerns.
Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the CIPD, said: "For organisations to thrive, employees must be given the opportunity to discuss how their organisations can innovate and feed their views upwards, as well as having the freedom to blow the whistle about genuine issues at work.
"Social media won't always be the most appropriate channel for discussing issues, but employers must wake up to the fact that they can't ignore it. Employee voice expressed through social media is much more influential because it is more likely to be heard. In comparison, employee surveys are 'voice without muscle'. Social media affects even organisations that have been slow in the uptake, whether they realise it or not or whether they like it or not, so employers must start designing their own future in employee voice before it designs them."
Meanwhile, employees in some organisations that have been slow to embrace social media have taken matters into their own hands by forming unofficial channels of communication between fellow colleagues and external audiences.
"Our research suggests that the risks associated with inaction are far greater than those associated with embracing social media as a channel for employee voice. We need to remain alive to some of the potential risks of social media - for example, will it make organisations more susceptible to group think and social herding, which aren't always conducive to organisational growth and success? But employers should also be thinking hard about the opportunity social media gives them to simultaneously collect opinions and facilitate discussion about genuine opinions and ideas, and to analyse the data in rich and meaningful ways. "