The new year is just around the corner, and for some organizations, the fresh start can bring about big changes. Organizations expand, restructure and implement new technology and systems. Although a change may be the right move for a particular company, it may leave employees feeling insecure about their job stability, shifting responsibilities or other implications of the transition.
Fortunately, a “social CEO” can ease employees’ worries — before they start to panic.
The need for a CEO active on social media both inside and outside a company is real: A recent study of 2,300 global employees conducted by Weber Shandwick found that 55 percent of employees who had gone through a change event at work said they wished their employer had offered more digital and social engagement.
What’s more, only 17 percent of employees who had recently experienced a change at work gave high ratings to communications from their companies’ leadership.
When a major change occurs, employees need to be on the same page, and social engagement is the answer. Here are three reasons why a social CEO is critical to implementing big changes in the new year:
1. A social CEO encourages feedback.
In the midst of a major change, employees may feel that their voices aren’t being heard. They have fears, concerns and questions, and these changes may have been made without their input. Even when employees do speak their minds, they don’t feel that others are listening.
A survey of U.S. employees published last March by 15Five found that just 15 percent of employee respondents thought that their feedback was highly valued by managers.
But social interaction can change that. BRANDfog’s 2014 Global, Social CEO Survey of 1,000 U.S. and U.K. employees found that 83 percent of U.S. workers surveyed believed that CEO participation in social media can build better connections with customers, employees and investors.
Internal social channels allow employees to voice their concerns and get a direct response from the CEO. In addition, CEOs can gain valuable insight into potential workplace problems they might not have considered, and feedback on the moves they’re implementing to make changes easier on employees.
When a company owns its own internal feed, it can guarantee that employees are the only ones reading internal messages. When a social news feed serves as an extension of your company culture, it becomes a great feedback tool.
In addition to internal social networks, social CEOs can use private LinkedIn or Facebook groups for employees to open up a discussion in a forum-like setting. A company news feed will still provide the most engagement, but the use of other social groups will put important information right where employees are likely to see it.
Considering that 70 percent of Facebook users surveyed by Pew Research in January said they used the platform at least once a day, employees are bound to see and interact with information posted on the site.
Setting up a digital suggestion box on your internal network or sending out questionnaires created with Google Forms can also give your company valuable, anonymous feedback. That way, employees who are hesitant to speak up may be more likely to share their thoughts.
2. A social CEO brings teams together.
A CEO is the face of the company and, for employees, the face of the company’s mission and goals. When a major change happens, that mission and vision is what keeps teams together and focused on their goals.
A social CEO can reinforce topline goals and remind employees what they’re working toward. After all, 82 percent of U.S. respondents in the BRANDfog survey said that CEO engagement on social media helped to communicate their respective companies’ values and shape their brand reputations.
A video message from the CEO might be just the motivational tool needed when employees feel discouraged or stressed by large company changes. Weber Shandwick conducted a report on the top 50 companies in the 2014 Fortune Global 500 rankings and found that 54 percent of leaders studied had appeared in a company video.
Videos posted on employee portals, the company website or internal social networks may help to ease fears and bring the team together around a familiar face and company values.
3. A social CEO builds a culture of transparency.
When changes occur, employees want information — and they want all of it. They want to know what’s going on, when the changes will take place, why the changes are being made and the potential impact of those changes.
During a major company change, communication and transparency are necessary to keep your culture a healthy one. In fact, among the employees surveyed by 15Five, 81 percent said they would rather join a company that values open communication than have popular perks like free food and gym memberships.
A social CEO can give employees the transparent communication they crave. In the BRANDfog survey, 77 percent of U.S. employees said that executive use of social media fosters brand transparency. Social CEOs can provide resources, information and announcements with employees on internal social networks as the information becomes available.
Public social media platforms can be used to show employees they are getting an honest, complete picture.
While CEOs may announce changes on the company website or on Twitter and LinkedIn, they won’t divulge every detail. But on internal social tools, employees should receive the inside scoop to promote transparency and open communication at every level of the company.