Staff Now Less Reluctant to Talk about Their Companies on Social Networks

By March 21, 2012
Keywords : Digital Working, Europe
computer & hand

There are still not many employees who talk openly about their companies, but a substantial number would be ready to do so in times of crisis. This is a trend that companies should make the most of, turning their staff into ambassadors of the company’s values.

Would you speak about your company or your work on the social networks? It seems that about 18% of management staff in France polled by leading opinion survey company ifop actually do. The survey was carried out for L'Atelier as part of a Théma (open forum) on the subject of “The employer brand takes on the face of the employees.” In addition, 9% can see themselves doing so in future. These are fairly low figures, but they do show some growth in this type of communication. In a previous survey carried out by ifop and L'Atelier, 80% of managerial staff were of the opinion that talking about the company on the social networks should be left to the Communication department. Today however, 40% claim that staff are able to talk freely about their work and their company on a day-to-day basis, even on the Internet and social networks. However, another 40% still argue that it’s not up to the employees to do so, even in times of crisis. As far as Philippe Torrès, Head of consulting and digital strategy at L'Atelier, is concerned, even though these figures "don’t seem to show any great enthusiasm on the part of French managers, there is nevertheless a growing trend and the fairly recent arrival of social networks in France will only increase this trend further".

Responsive attitude, positive statements

Companies certainly have every reason to make use of this communication channel because it will surely have an impact, whether direct or indirect, on the image of the company and its employer brand. This in turn will influence the impression of the company that potential recruits might get. In addition, a fair number - 26% - of managers think that the company should encourage dissemination of information on everyday matters via the social networks. Another sign of the trend is the reaction to criticism. If the company or one of its departments were to come under attack on the social networks, 43% say they would be happy to give an opinion on the subject in their own name. And they would do this both on the company site (84%) and on their own social networks (80%). Philippe Torrès reckons that "even though it might not come naturally, managers would make an effort to take the initiative on social networks to stand up for their company, and they would do so in their own name." This statistic is corroborated by the fact that what most motivates managers (32%) to express a positive view of the company on social networks is their pride in working there.

Best practice codes

However, it seems that most companies do not yet fully understand how to manage their staff’s public communication. Despite a rising overall trend, 42% of managers say that their companies still have not put in place a code of best practice, and 34% haven’t even heard of such a thing. Yet companies are apparently aware of the advantage of having such a code. Some 88% of managers think a code will be useful, while 61% do not think a code will put people off communicating. "These codes of best practice aren’t seen as a ban on activities, but rather as a support for staff, helping them to grasp what it’s all about," explains Philippe Torrès, adding that codes may serve to underline common sense rules about "how to use these channels, including how to avoid unintentional mistakes".

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