If you're like most, you're focusing on increasing brand awareness, making new sales, and attracting new talent. You're probably focusing on the external: external customers, external reputation, external job candidates.
But are you using social media internally? More specifically, are social tools part of your total rewards strategy? If not, you're missing out on opportunities for employee recognition, career development, assisting with work-life balance, and innovation in your compensation and benefits programs.
Here are five ways you can incorporate social tools into your total rewards strategy:
1. Recognition: Social tools can be used to recognize employee accomplishments with everyone throughout the organization, and even with customers! It's fast, it's easy, relatively low-cost and and highly visible. Best Western River North Hotel used social media to recognize Wallace, one of its star employees. Wallace was nominated for the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association's Star of the Industry Award. The company created a Facebook page for Wallace. Not only did the page create recognition for Wallace within the company, customers recognized him through wall posts about his extensive knowledge of the city, the outstanding service he provided them, and their favorite stories about interacting with him at the hotel.
2. Benefits: Aside from relaying information about enrollment deadlines and plan details, social media can be used to encourage participation in benefits programs. Sprint launched its Get Fit Challenge, a 12 week wellness program, through social media. Employees signed up in teams and could log their progress on exercise minutes, pedometer steps, and weight loss using an online website. Rankings in various categories were posted at the end of each week, providing some friendly competition and creating some accountability. Sprint estimates it saved approximately $1.1 million through its social media wellness challenge.
3. Pay: Combining social media and pay takes some forethought and a lot of creativity, but it can really pay off. For example, IGN Entertainment created a profit-sharing system where employees awarded each other "tokens". The more tokens an employee receives from his co-workers, the larger percentage of the profit she receives. Check out Ann Bares' post about IGN's profit-sharing plan at Compensation Force.
4. Development and Career Opportunities: You use social media to recruit external candidates, why not use it to recruit internal candidates for new opportunities? You can also use social tools for employee development. The Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives uses social tools for their "Aspiring Leaders Program." Because participants are scattered across the country and cannot meet in person, web meetings and secure chat capabilities are used to provide briefings on leadership topics, turn in team reports and assignments, and engage in formal and informal learning.
5. Work-Life Balance: More and more companies are realizing that flexible schedules and remote work opportunities not only benefit employees in terms of work-life balance, they also create cost savings. Obviously, social tools are making it easier to offer these options by making communication and collaboration easier. One advantage you may not have thought about is that social tools can provide virtual "co-workers" for employees working non-traditional schedules or who are working in physically isolated environments. A big part of work is social. Many people say they wouldn't want to work in an environment without coworkers. If you have employees who are working remotely, provide them with social tools for those informal water cooler conversations with colleagues.
Stephanie R. Thomas is an economic and statistical consultant specializing in EEO issues and employment litigation risk management. Since 1999, she's been working with businesses and government agencies providing expert quantitative analysis. Stephanie's articles on examining compensation systems for internal equity have appeared in professional journals and she has appeared on NPR to discuss the gender wage gap. Stephanie is the founder of Thomas Econometrics Inc. and is the host of The Proactive Employer. Follow her on Twitter at proactivemployr.