Dealing With Negative Employee Feedback Via Social Media
Social media is a tool that businesses can use to improve competitiveness by engaging their clients, consumers, employees and new recruits. Even though the benefits are becoming more tangible, a negative online groundswell may inflict far greater damage. Customer satisfaction and engagement is often considered the most important aspect of an online social branding campaign however a less explored, but more important element is the destructive bearing that negative employee sentiment can impact on a company’s reputation.
A key reason for this is because harmful employee rhetoric can lead to larger questions about internal business practices. A topical example is the Greg Smith case, whose exposure of Goldman Sachs may have lead to significant drops in their share price. From this case, it is clear that employees are best positioned to understand the deeper issues within a business, and therefore gain greater public attention when any negative elements are brought to awareness.
As public and private social networking becomes more integrated into employees’ daily work lives, management has a real opportunity to identify and understand disgruntled employees before these negative feelings boil into the public domain or spread within the business. Internal dialogue between management and employees has historically been a one-way channel, and in many companies there has been no real way for executives to engage with employees. For example, it is difficult in retail businesses for senior managers to regularly communicate and understand what is happening at a store level.
Advances in internal communication systems have allowed for new opportunities in exchanges between managers and employees. Not only can executives communicate in new ways, employees can communicate back, thus closing the feedback loop. While these tools are important and useful to managers, it should also be understood that without effective use and understanding they will not solve deeper issues that have been caused by long term neglect.
The change to comprehending employee issues and preventing negative outbursts is not something that is going to happen overnight. It is, however, well worth the effort to begin down this path, as companies that better understand the needs of their employees are sure to derive competitive advantages in a technologically advancing business world.