Facebook: Improving Employee Communications?

January 8th, 2013 | Ancita Satija | 19 Comments

Bunker Six Degrees PR

Whether you want to go for coffee, meet a friend or keep yourself posted on your friends’ birthdays, Facebook is where today’s generation updates each other by sharing the minutest details of their lives on the platform.

Today, though, Facebook isn’t so much about friends, family or clients who are trying to connect with today’s generation.

Today, even employers are making a move to connect with their younger workers through the platform.

Case in point: me

I was surprised to get a Facebook request from my company (Six Degrees PR) to join its Page named “Six Degrees PR bunker.”  I never thought that any company would step up to connect and engage with its employees through a private Facebook Page – this was quite a surprise to me.

What fascinated me the most about the Page was that barring the Managers and the Directors, all the Account Coordinators, Executives and Senior Account Executives were invited to join the Page.

I believe that the idea behind creating this Page was to get the employees under one platform to engage with them and understand their needs and concerns. While the Managers and Directors can’t access the page, it is accessible by the Owner and Co-Founder of the company, so that they can listen, engage and act.

Listen, engage and act is the mantra for successful campaigns, successful leaders and successful organizations!

An organization’s strength lies in its people. And if an organization listens to its people, it will always be successful!

This initiative by my company has helped break down barriers between team members in different cities. Everyone seemed to be engaging with each other through the Six Degrees PR bunker page.

Here’s a sneak peek into the Bunker family:

Six Degrees PR Bunker

And not only does it help different teams engage with each other, but it also provides a platform to connect and engage with top management directly.

A bridge too far?

However, while I felt the initiative was great, I also noticed that employees were reluctant to share all their concerns on the Facebook Page, since top management had access to all the content.

Of course, this is why organizations often use platforms such as Yammer for employee engagement, creating internal or private social networks, as it were.

I just find it ironic that what is currently the world’s largest social network can successfully connect strangers across the globe… but not employees of the same organization.

What do you think: will Facebook ever successfully bridge the gap between employers and employees? Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know.

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Ancita Satija

Ancita Satija

Senior Account Executive at Six Degrees PR
Ancita Satija has a Masters degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from the Xavier Institute of Communications, one of India’s best school for communications & media studies. With a keen interest in social media, she blogs regularly at In My Humble Opinion...; other passions include singing (professionally trained for over a decade!), reading and traveling. Learn more about Ancita via her About.me page.
Ancita Satija
Ancita Satija
Ancita Satija

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19 comments
VipinT7
VipinT7

Great points Ancita! Culture is what drives engagement. If the management is not open and does not demonstrate a collaborative mindset new platforms or tools will be able to help only to an extent. Employees will always be wary (at least initially)of a platform that's implemented with the purpose of collecting "insights" and "feedback ". Do check out my recent blog post around this topic. http://goo.gl/EEvdq

However when the platform is used extensively to collaborate around work (this is where features like task management, document management, idea management, wikis and blogs help) it makes the decision making process more transparent. The leaders become more approachable. and they can easily demonstrate that questions and feedback are always welcome. http://goo.gl/n0ipW

Doug Wendt
Doug Wendt

While I agree with many of the concerns some have raised in the comments (privacy issues, the downside to Facebook for employees, etc.), the fact is that Facebook is the de facto platform for more and more communication. Put another way, it is what every employer's younger (and many older) employees are *already using*. And the big problem with third-party systems is that no one bothers with them, precisely because they represent yet *another* platform to be logged into, another system that's like FB only not quite, etc. I say, if you can figure out a way to make privacy settings work well enough, and you're getting the interactions you want, then run with it. In fact, encouraging employee internal engagement on FB further emphasizes that personal and professional are intertwined...which, today, they are. Thanks for sharing the story!

Denovati
Denovati

I think this is such a bad idea! Not the part about trying to create a forum to connect with employees, but the idea of using a public platform like FB to do it.All employer organizations would be far better served by creating some kind of private digital community to pursue their internal communication objectives.

I also agree with Richard that if the goal is to elicit insights about the employment experience, there needs to be a corresponding culture of openness, which would obviate the need to exclude certain positions from the forum.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Hi Ancita 


I feel the initiative is great but as you mentioned employees are reluctant to share when upper managers will see (or be honest about stuff). I think anonymous type bulletin boards would be best so people can say what they feel.  But technologies exist for this. A strong organization with open door policies and a culture where dissent isn't punished will do best for these things.

As for Facebook not sure they need to be the platform. I am a firm believer in Facebook style bulletin boards for companies to facilitate internal communication. But I surely wouldn't want Facebook owning that content.

Love the beautiful colorful attire!

Richard DAmbrosio
Richard DAmbrosio

Ancita, Thank you for sharing. I think that the platform holds potential, but as you point out, what holds things back are the cultures of openness that the company conveys and lives outside of the platform. I have worked in corporate communications for 20+ years, and it has been interesting to see how awkward people feel about sharing their candid thoughts and asking provocative questions if they don't feel the environment supports their doing so. I advise organizations to spend as much time, if not more, on leadership and workplace culture, as they do on the technology platforms they build. The two go hand in hand.

KenMueller
KenMueller

I love seeing this. We've created private groups in Facebook for a few of my clients and it really has helped with internal communications. Employees love having a voice, and it's a great way to stay informed.

Jeremy Norton
Jeremy Norton

Yes, even in my own office I can personally experience this. My boss recently added me through facebook. Of course, I have no way to ignore that. Great post!

Ancita
Ancita

@Shonali Yes Shonali...it is up and running and I love communicating with my colleagues through that page. In fact I was being asked to organize a meet up for all Bunkers in Delhi office and I did that through the Facebook page only and it was fun organising it :) 

Ancita
Ancita

@Doug Wendt Thanks Dough for the comment! Yea, I guess if privacy settings can be worked out well ...and interactions keep taking place amongst employees on FB, it can be the perfect platform to be at for internal engagement. 

Ancita
Ancita

@SMinOrgs Thanks for the comment. The Facebook page that we have is private only...so other than the employees of the organization  no one else can access the page/read updates. However, I do agree with you and Richard about having a culture of openness in the company which will eventually make the employees feel more comfortable sharing things on the company Facebook page. 

Ancita
Ancita

@HowieG Thanks Howie!! Like the idea of anonymous type bulletin boards...surely a great way to get the truth out of everyone ;) 

Ancita
Ancita

@Richard DAmbrosio Thanks for the comment Richard! Totally agree with you...it really does depend on the work environment and how comfortable co-workers are with each other. You pointed out correctly about organizations spending as much time on leadership and workplace culture. 

Ancita
Ancita

@KenMueller Thanks for your comment Ken! It's interesting to know that you guys have private groups in Facebook for the clients as well...I'm sure it helped in the internal communications. Just curious to know if you have observed employees being reluctant to share info upfront? 

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@KenMueller I am curious you can be part of such groups without being 'friends' with the people on facebook correct? So an employee can keep everything in their social life private from their co-workers or bosses if they choose?

Denovati
Denovati

@Ancita FB pages are not private, so I assume what your organization has is a group. Even private groups, however, are not truly private, as FB has access to all the data. More importantly, they have control over how the group functions. Sure, a group owner can make certain decisions, but the general design and functionality is determined by FB - and they can decide at any time to drastically change and/or eliminate the feature. Getting back to the privacy issue, there are some risks in terms of individual employee privacy as well. If an individual hasn't set up his/her privacy settings appropriately, activities and information that are intended only for friends and family may also be available to co-workers and bosses. That visibility creates risks for both individuals and organizations. 

As far as I'm concerned, the risks far outweigh the benefits, as I detailed in this blog post last year:

http://www.sminorgs.net/2012/03/private-social-networks-i-why-your-organization-needs-one.html

Ancita
Ancita

@SMinOrgs hmmm I see. Yea but online privacy is a huge issue any way. Interesting read btw - private social networks! 

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