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Using digital resources to connect with employees requires more sophistication in planning and implementation than ever before for many reasons. There are many social media programs, employees are incredibly knowledgeable about numerous online resources, and employers have a choice of digital tools to engage employees. This all adds up to the need to develop the most prodigious plan for using digital resources as critical elements of employee engagement and for identifying early signs of unionizing or responding to a union organizing campaign. Haphazard approaches don’t work anymore because they leave gaps in information that make you vulnerable to unionization and even increase the risk that you will harm employee engagement.
Your organization can use digital resources for many purposes. Social media presents excellent opportunities for your organization to manage internal and external communications, recruiting, and employee engagement and offers employee-related activities. It also presents opportunities for employees to actively support the organization or complain about the workplace.
There are two overarching goals for using digital resources to connect with employees. One is continually enhancing and maintaining employee engagement as an employer of choice. The other is to prevent union organizing or identify potential union organizing. You most likely are already using digital resources to connect with employees through digital tools like mobile apps, websites, internal operational platforms, and internal or external social media. The question is whether there is a carefully thought-out plan that coordinates the use of digital resources and directs your leaders on the best ways to identify potential union activity.
In many cases, the answer is that there needs to be coordination of digital resources and adequate leadership training on how to leverage the resources to connect with employees. Digital resources are added and layered without really thinking through how to integrate and maximize the benefit of their use. What do you need to include in the way of helpful information about your employees and labor unions? How can you strengthen employee engagement with digital resources? What should you do to become an employer of choice, improving employee recruiting and retention? How can you utilize digital resources to promote an organizational culture where unions simply aren’t needed?
These are the types of questions your leaders will ask and answer when developing a plan for digital resources.
With so many communication options available today, it’s easy to have communication gaps you aren’t aware can or do exist. Gaps include information you are not getting through social media monitoring and lost opportunities to share information with employees that promotes employee engagement. You also want to create an online presence that clearly says you are an employer of choice. That requires more than your organization posting online or sending messages internally. You want your employees to post positive information about your company. Everyone expects you and your leaders to say good things about the company, meaning other people’s content carries much weight.
That’s why you need a plan for social listening and connecting with employees in the age of employee empowerment and the pro-union environment your business operates in today. Social listening, also called social media listening, is the process of monitoring and assessing social media channels for anything said about your organization. It’s a process used to monitor feedback to learn what is being said about the company and its brands, management, competitors, industry trends, and events. The digital employee voice is as important as the digital customer voice in the hyper-connected world.
TechTarget explains that social listening is different from social monitoring. Social monitoring merely identifies what people are saying on social media, but it doesn’t mean you respond. Social listening is a process in which the information monitored (collected) is used to identify sentiments, so there is an assessment element. Do people like your organization and think you are an employer of choice? Or are they indicating that the workplace culture is toxic and leaders have weak management skills? The questions present two extremes, and most organizations will find sentiment lies somewhere along a spectrum of opinion. What you discover through social listening will drive your response internally and externally.
Deloitte points out that workers have the ability to affect market performance as much as customers do. The same is true on many levels. Your workers significantly influence what people think about the company and what it’s like to work there. They can impact your ability to attract the kind of employee you want to attract, support your retention efforts, determine the organizational culture, and decide if joining a labor union is necessary.
You need a plan and a strategy that you would not think twice about developing if the issue was developing strategic goals for long-term success, managing a merger and acquisition, or anything else that directly impacts the bottom line. Yet, your workers’ influence over your corporate reputation is just as meaningful.
Have you thought about the fact that you have an online culture? You know you have a workplace culture, but have you thought about how the workplace culture carries over into the digital culture? What are your employees saying about working at your company? As you can tell, developing a strategy and plan for using digital resources to connect with employees starts with many questions. That is why you begin with an assessment of the elements of your online culture.
There is a link between your planning for digital resources and the employee engagement journey. It is communication. As you monitor Facebook, Twitter, union-focused social media, and internal communication systems, you are looking for information that points to happy and unhappy employees, the quality of the employee experience, indications of the level of employee engagement, if there are issues at any stage of the employee journey, and signs of union vulnerability.
Question: Do you know if your employees are happy and morale high? Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report found that only 33 percent feel engaged. Unhappy employees are not likely to stay with your organization.
What digital resources can help you prepare for possible labor union activity? It’s important to consider all the options because failing to include critical online sites for social listening will lead to communication gaps.
Of course, you also monitor and assess internal communications on any digital system in use. Monitoring and evaluating union vulnerability and employee engagement is only a first step. How will you take control of your organization’s online brand? The answer is through a goal-oriented. It may be tempting to jump into social listening, but how will your organization respond and take back ownership of the narrative internally and externally? You have to:
Of course, you want to measure social media and website activity. How would you know whether your social media posts engage the targeted audience the way you want? Are they sharing the content? Responding to the content? Adding positive or negative content?
Establishing goals and objectives for each stage of the employee journey and designing the use of digital resources to connect with employees is crucial to maintaining a workplace where employees are engaged, the corporate reputation is protected, and the workplace operates in a positive organizational culture. You know what to do, and IRI Consultants can assist you with how to do it. Download the Digital Engagement Workbook and begin engaging your employees digitally.
With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.