Employers need to open up to the way social media is transforming the workplace or miss out on important sources of productivity, according to experts.
Learning system designer Dr Clark Quinn told HR Report business was “crazy” to block social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and compared it to employers blocking email in the 90s. “That sounds ridiculous but it’s the same situation now,” he said. “These sites are the perfect way for employees to stay in touch and informally learn from each other.”
Information was now the engine of business, Quinn said. With the rate of change in technology accelerating, employers needed to embrace new methods of learning to ensure employees kept pace. “Innovation doesn’t come from formal learning, it comes from interaction and conversation,” he said. “It’s no longer what you know, it’s who you know. Through access to social media in the workplace, employees can create an informal network of peers who exchange tips, best practices, and solutions to real problems.”
Quinn praised Intel for its initiative to set up a wiki that acted as a place for staff to put up technical vocabulary. A large US airplane manufacturer also set up a social media system so engineers could keep up to date with new software updates as soon as they came out. Business management software company SAP has allowed for online conversations between customers and staff to discuss problems. “This is not just for high-tech companies,” Quinn said “It’s for companies looking towards the future.”
This article first appeared in HR Report, Issue 484, Wednesday 09 March 2011. Find out more at