Employee communication is an essential part of good people management. Effective communication can help businesses achieve their objectives more easily, support change management and increase employee engagement.

Many organisations continue to focus their time and resources on external rather than internal communication using passive methods such as websites to convey information. However, considering the greater use and acceptance of social technology, isn’t internal communication influenced by the desire to be more responsive and agile? While in recent years we have seen increasing requests from businesses to tighten up their social media policies, many organisations are now embracing social technology and using it as a key part of their engagement and communication approach with employees.

Recent research conducted by the CIPD “Putting social media to work – lessons from employers” shows that social technology can add value by delivering more efficient communications, improving knowledge transfer, increasing networking and collaboration, encouraging learning and development and encouraging an employee voice.

Many organisations are now utilising tools such as Yammer or Workmate to support their communication and engagement with employees. If you are thinking of embarking on this journey to utilise more social technology there are some lessons to consider: it is important to be clear about your purpose in using this technology – there is no point saying you want to give employees a voice by seeking their views and then not taking on board their feedback or being open to their influence.

Obviously it is essential to choose the right platforms – whether it is encouraging small numbers of employees to set up discussion groups for projects or service improvements, or encouraging employees to blog about their experiences as was done at the London Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. It is also important to think about on-going support and implementation. What culture and behaviour are you trying to encourage and is it right for the organisation?

Finally, you should also consider data security and guidelines for use, although the findings show guidance should not be too constraining.

Social technology alone will not provide all the solutions, but it may provide a great opportunity to review the way you communicate and engage with your employees and at least provide another tool or platform to use.

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