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Using Social Media to Increase Employee Participation

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Has your leadership team ever tried to implement a policy or procedure aimed at improving the health of the workforce, only to be disappointed in the turnout? Or maybe you’re a part of that leadership team and felt the disappointment directly?

Getting employees to participate in health and wellness programs is one of the greatest concerns employers have when considering an implementation. Voluntary employee participation is a tough obstacle to overcome, and can be a daunting task that leaves employers unsure where to begin or how to address the problem in the first place.

The dominance of technology in our daily lives brings hope for employers, however. The Incentive Marketing Association’s (IMA) Recognition Council recently released a paper outlining that the use of social media as a tool to influence employee participation in these programs is an effective strategy.

According to the IMA, the integration of social media into the business world as a whole brings an opportunity for employers to use it as a channel of communication with employees. The paper, titled “Social Recognition: The Virtual Way to Engage,” hints that the use of social media can give employers a more effective way to offer encouragement and support to employees in many different areas of focus, such as other business problems, product development, and customer service.

“What we found is that many businesses are already using social media tools for communication purposes,” says Karen Renk of the IMA. “And that a number have taken the plunge into using the new technology before, during, and after specific recognition programs.”

While this is a promising new take on effectively engaging employees in the workplace, a shift in communication on the job could be easier said than done.

The first obstacle in the discussion of bringing social media into the workplace is the lack of popularity for the idea on the side of the employer. According to a study performed by a number of marketing firms, only 48% of employees are permitted to access social networking sites on the job. To take that stat even further, 70% of the employees polled said their employer blocks social networking sites at work.

Initially, those numbers might seem a bit harsh. Really, seven out of 10 employers don’t allow their employees to access social media at work? Well, when you have people like politician Anthony Weiner or GoDaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons running wild with a smartphone in-hand.

In order to avoid being the next Parsons or Weiner, or having them represent your company in a less than desirable way, experts say to offer employees training and common-sense advice about the use of social media. Rather than forbidding social media because of the fear that something can go wrong, educating employees on proper use can improve their sense of discretion and what might be too much for the web.

So, what now? Well, with a little education and training on best practices in the workplace, social media could be the next thing that brings your workplace closer together. Sometimes, all people need to get more motivated is a little bit of fun.

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One Comment

  1. “social media can give employers a more effective way to offer encouragement and support to employees”

    Social media allow employers to support employees as it is happening. Most phones come with a camera so why not take a photo of an employee in action and upload it to Facebook right then and there? You can celebrate your employees in the moment.

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