With 400 million active Facebook users and 80 million registered LinkedIn users, the need for social networking and interaction has secured and validated its place in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Moreover, large-scale economic uncertainties fundamentally change the drivers that attract, motivate and retain employees, including the need to perhaps socialize more during challenging times.
This viral trend, however, has posed an interesting challenge for organizations that want to capitalize on the potential business benefits of social networking and collaboration without making work so ‘social’ that employee performance suffers. Organizations therefore have to optimize the mix of non business-related social networking -- with business and job performance-related social collaboration … as these two clearly bleed into each other and can’t easily be de-coupled. A purely social contact today can become a critical business or job-relevant contact tomorrow, and someone who is not a contact today can become a social or business contact tomorrow.
Most large companies now have ‘social computing’ policy guidelines in an effort to ensure that company-sponsored (through technology platforms) social networking doesn’t cross over to ‘diminishing returns’ in the form of minimal company benefit – or worse, company liability. As an example of appropriate social computing policy, employees should be advised that when they discuss the company or company-related matters, they should write in the first person; and also make it clear that they are speaking for themselves.
In the midst of all the excitement being generated by social networking, and particularly, its potential to drive business benefits when guided appropriately (e.g., social learning, social collaboration-infused innovation, social networking as a driver of productivity, retention and engagement), I will offer-up one tip for organizations looking at the Talent Management Suite market:
You may recall when “embedded analytics” was being claimed by nearly every HCM solutions vendor, even when it might have been more aspirational than a reality. Well, “embedded social collaboration” may be a quasi-universal vendor claim that is at that same stage. Trust but verify!