Debi O’Donovan, editor of Employee Benefits: You’d be a twit to ignore what’s happening online

At last month’s Employee Benefits Summit, I boldly announced to delegates that we would be Tweeting live from the event and invited them to do the same. The response was 60 or so very blank faces and just a few nods.

Although LinkedIn has become mainstream for benefits managers (the EmployeeBenefits LinkedIn group is expanding daily – search under EmployeeBenefit), it is still only a small core of people who initiate discussions.

Clearly, active social networking is still some way off for our readers. However, for the average (usually younger) employee, discussing the latest company announcement on Facebook is as routine as a chat at the office coffee machine. (find Employee Benefits on Facebook by searching [email protected])

This is where more HR and benefits managers need to up their social networking game. Do you know what pay and HR information about your company is being shared in forums and on networking sites? And as our feature †Get up to speed with social networking asks: Are you sure your staff are clear on what your organisation’s policy is on disclosure of information on social networks?

Our opening speaker at the Employee Benefits Summit, Helen Murlis, also flagged how reward managers can fall victim to the online prowess of some staff. Tech-savvy staff are quick to find pay data on myriad websites, share information with peers at competitor employers, or check out what senior directors earn.

These days, if an employer has anything it would prefer to keep under wraps, it needs a quick rethink, because the information is probably already out there waiting to be found. From pay discrepancies or poor service from a group insurance provider to bonus levels or reward reviews, nothing is as ‘secret’ as it used to be.

Of course, not everyone wants to, or should, become a social networking addict. However, it is wise to have at least one person keeping track of mentions of your organisation online as well as the validity of data on reward websites. As Murlis explained, for generation Y, social media and reward data are intertwined, so they need to be educated about benchmarking rather than using the internet to compare their pay and reward. “They need to ask whether this information is accurate or up to date,” she said.

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