What engagement lessons can employers learn from social media?

Need to know:

  • Employers can use social media techniques to encourage employees to engage with and take up benefits.
  • Creating an open space for communication and sharing can give employers valuable data from which to create an effective benefits strategy.
  • Benefits technology can use social media communication techniques to reach employees in a short and sharp manner.

Social media is a powerful communication and engagement tool both in and out of work. Igloo’s The state of social media in the workplace survey, published in May 2018, found that 68% of people are connected with their fellow employees on social media.

There are many benefits from putting social media techniques into practice to maximise engagement from employees.

Using social media techniques in benefits technology 

Lessons can be learnt from the way social media is used by consumers. Employers can utilise this knowledge to make benefits strategies more attractive to employees.

When looking to better engage employees with benefits, one of the most powerful techniques is the use of peer reviews. This is a great method, particularly in relation to areas where employees lack knowledge, giving them a better understanding of how they can use a benefit and compare it to how others are using it.

The peer review style used by online retailers, such as Amazon, can offer employers a great example, says Karen Bolan, head of engagement at AHC: “Employees can embrace that messaging really effectively in benefits communication. People don’t like to think that they are missing out on something or that somebody else is doing something, and maybe getting better results from them.

“Finding out that 15% of the people that work in your department are paying a higher pension contribution could drive an individual to question whether they should be doing it.”

Employers can use social media strategies to ensure that their workforces are using benefits effectively, for example, by creating leaderboards that give employees the opportunity to see what their colleagues are doing and creating a review system for staff to use. This will not only aid employees in engaging with schemes, but it can also mean that they feel they have a say in shaping the organisations’ benefits strategy.

Benefits such as pensions contributions, physical activity initiatives and annual leave policies are all examples of benefits that can be promoted using social media techniques to help employees get the most out of these perks.

“It’s about nudging [employees] to make the right decisions which isn’t always easy in the context of employee benefits,” explains Bolan. “The more that we can do in that regard, the more successful benefits communication can be.”

Measures of engagement 

One of the biggest lessons that employers can take from social media is its ability to create a space for employees to share and communicate. Social media platforms have made the consumer experience flexible enough for them to click, share, like, and engage with whoever and whatever they want. Organisations can benefit from this by creating internal communications tools to understand the demands and expectations of a workforce in relation to reward packages.

Patrick Brione, head of policy and research at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, says: “Employers can create a safe space where employees feel like they can post their honest opinions without any kind of retribution. These can be used for both work purposes and some non-work kind of discussions. It can be helpful in building a sense of community and camaraderie, which is crucial in building business effectiveness.

“If [employers] have the right culture where employees feel like they can speak up without being penalised for it, employees will be positive even with negative comments that might come out.”

Creating a culture where sharing, clicking and liking other employees’ viewpoints can provide valuable data that employers can use to increase take up and engagement with benefits.

Attention grabbing 

Getting an employee’s attention is critical so it is important for organisations to tailor the key messages that they want to get across.

Jean-Louis Bénard, chief executive officer at Sociabble, says: “It needs to be tailor-made to address the challenges of corporate communication in today’s fast-paced, information-rich, online world.

“Adding the element of play to employee advocacy can give it a big boost. It can create a motivation for liking and spreading relevant employer content for employees within their own online ecosystem.”

Bénard recommends rewarding points for events and launches, giving badges for training and performance, as well as interactive polls and quizzes.

The key is to not bombard employees with benefits information. “Social media is instant, and it’s generally short messages,” says Bolan. “Too often, when we are trying to communicate with people around benefits we get really hung up on giving people all of the detail in one go.

“Employers can embrace the fact that short, sharp messaging is the way to be more effective these days in communicating with employees.”

The same feeling that consumers get when their attention is caught through social media can be replicated in an organisation’s benefits strategy. To execute this properly, an employer has to build on the relationship it has with its employees. The more employers build a trustworthy relationship with its staff, the easier it will be to create strategies to engage employees in the same way as social media.

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Rebecca Peters: Engagement lessons that organisations can learn from social media

Infographic: Using social media lessons to engage employees