A recent post by Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd in Harvard Business discussed how few socially connected organisations there are, indicating this will need to be redressed if companies are to be attractive to a future workforce that judges a potential employer by the social media freedom they allow their employees.
The social networking juice that powers a generation across sprawling vibrant communities has its feed forcibly cut off when the majority of company staff walk into work. All the potential of networked company communities, the opportunity for people to collaborate and and share knowledge is left at home and lost to the company.Is it fear of lost productivity to idle chatter, tighter budgets and a weakening of central control that drives businesses to produce restrictive policies on social media use at work? These are long held arguments against developing a social media strategy, and simply don’t hold water. Devolving central control works. Flat organisational structures dissolves barriers between teams, ideas are generated with the customer and new products and services can be brought online quicker than through the traditional gate process. Vibrant social communities support this open structure and in today’s rapidly changing economy, knowledge and innovation that drives the market can be at the heart of a company’s social community. Businesses have to let go of centralised control.
People who keep close to their customers by empowering their staff to engage directly with them across their internal and external comms channels, to solve problems and find solutions, know what the market’s needs are and can respond faster to changes. In flat organisations, decisions are pushed through faster because the ideas are fed directly into decision makers without having to go through limiting chains of command. It also means the creativity of staff is released, and ideas and innovation blossoms.
Companies who are slow to release the energy of their own staff could have serious repercussions for them when the next generation of employees, the tuned in Millennials who increasingly spend more of their time online being entertained, learning, researching, listening and talking to friends, enter the workplace.
Think of the possibilities of a socially networked business. The ability to nurture new ways of thinking and innovating together is already proving sustainable (Look at the human genome project) and businesses who are tuning onto the opportunity are setting the standard for a new social business model that puts customers inside their products/service development process. These businesses tap into the human processor at the core of it’s workforce and free peoples minds to dream and create better products and services.
The winners and losers in business are borne out by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams who suggest in their seminal book ‘Wikinomics’, when web properties are compared. The difference is the losers build websites, and the winners build vibrant communities i.e wiki beat britannica, Blogger beat CNN, Craigslist beat Monster and Googlemaps beat MapQuest. The losers build walled gardens the winners public squares.
Millennials will form over half the available workforce by 2014, and it is they who will set the bar for their employers.