Last week we initiated a three-part series to share key insights from a chapter we authored in the German book, Arbeitskultur 2020“ (Springer, 2014). Last week’s topic was: “What can corporates learn from start-ups about company culture?”. Today I’ll focus on a different question, namely: How companies can leverage their social media channels to strengthen their corporate culture?
Using social media internally is a two-way road: What do I mean? When an organization uses social media tools internally, they invariably impact the company culture. Vice versa, the company culture also impacts how employees use social media.
Social Media Effects on Culture
On one hand, the successful introduction of internal social media channels on an enterprise level empowers employees to engage with each other. Through channels like Beekeeper they can communicate bottom-up and often in ways that weren’t possible before. For example, when we rolled out Beekeeper to 50’000 employees at FRHI Hotels, this enabled tens of thousands of employees (i.e. receptionists, kitchen staff, maids etc.) to connect with each other from around the world. This was unthinkable prior to Beekeeper. Most of these employees did not have a company email address, so the mere fact that a maid from a hotel property in Moscow, Russia could comment on a post from a concierge in Basle, Switzerland had a deep impact on the company culture. Through social media effects on culture and Beekeeper’s mobile first platform, internal communication at Swissôtel has been – true to its Swiss heritage – democratized. Employees from around the world now share their insights, ideas and snap shots from their day-to-day work experience with each other. Internal social media means there’s common digital ground accessible to everyone. And no matter on which continent you work, it’s always just a click away.
Build Corporate Culture: Impacts on Social Media
Whether or not an internal social media channel will be effective and successful within an organization is by and large determined by cultural factors. Having rolled out over 20 such projects over the past few years, we’ve learned two important lessons: First, if the company culture doesn’t value and reward group over individual participation, digital interaction on social enterprise networks will be compromised. Second, there needs to be a basic level of trust as well as an element of openness engrained in the company culture; without it, employees will feel reluctant to contribute as you build corporate culture.
If you are thinking about launching an internal social media initiative in your company or would like advice on how to nurture a digital employee community, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help.