Social media and the corporate cake
I have observed and somewhat portentously anticipated, storms brewing in cyber space.
The corporate mindset appears to be several steps behind the outside world. In many areas it is now playing catch up, but nowhere is this more self-evident than in the area of employee engagement in the social media arena.
So it didn’t come as a surprise to read that an executive had been forced out of his job, not for uploading or being tagged in compromising photos, sending out risqué tweets or saying he hated his job on Facebook. No. He simply posted his professional CV on LinkedIn and checked the contact box ” interested in career opportunities.” This seemingly was against company policy.
Having and eating the cake
The executive in question John Flexman of BG Group, responsible for graduate recruitment, is pursuing a court case for constructive dismissal. This pre-supposes that any interest in career opportunities, by default has to be external only and brings no benefit to the existing organisation. It was also claimed that Flexman had divulged confidential information by listing reduced staff attrition as one of his achievements. Now there is possibly more to this than meets the eye, but nevertheless there is still a court case hanging on the premise of the supposed inappropriate use of a LinkedIn profile .
We live in a world where many catalogue and communicate every waking moment and thought in their daily lives. Most of us have no interest at all in what people are eating, or the quality of the weather, restaurants or roads in Manchester, Mumbai, or anywhere else for that matter. This is in stark contrast to the corporate world where confidentiality agreements are common place and covert deals struck behind closed doors are the norm.
But having said that, organisations tap into this disparate information in the public domain to keep their fingers on the pulse of their customer bases. They extract key nuggets of market and competitive intelligence, tracking our spending patterns and other consumer trends, as well as keeping tabs on the competition, from what would appear to us regular mortals, to be totally inane data. Research shows that a high percentage of companies also use social media for identifying and screening candidates as part of their own recruitment processes, with 86% of businesses now saying they use LinkedIn and even Facebook.
This issue raises a number of questions. Do organisations such as BG Group want to have their cake and eat it too? Are they happy to use social media platforms to achieve corporate goals, but not thrilled when employees use these platforms to meet theirs?
But more importantly, shouldn’t the role of management be focused on motivating its employees to be committed and engaged to a company, rather than ring fencing them, making it difficult to leave? Would that perhaps account for a need to reduce staff attrition?