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A Case for Social Media at Work

Execs — Pay Attention to This!

A large percentage of companies still block social media access on the corporate network. Companies are concerned that access will have an impact on employee productivity.      – Cisco Connected World Technology Report

The latest chapter of the Cisco Connected World Report went out last week, with its focus on what it calls ‘the new workplace currency’ and highlights new rules for attracting young talent into the workplace.  A key finding comes as no surprise:  young professionals want to work in an open environment that accommodates social media, device freedom, and remote working to accommodate their lifestyle and inspire innovation.  The clincher is that they would take a lower salary to have this freedom if necessary.

Understanding how these young professionals feel about work and what’s important to them are key in recruiting them.  Those companies that don’t embrace, allow and leverage social media in the workplace will be at a major disadvantage in competing for this new workforce.

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about this future workforce:

1.  Social media is not a fad.  It’s one of the most powerful tools that mankind has ever seen.

2.  Most senior executives have never used social media and believe it’s something their kids use.  How would your business school professors feel about you making strategic decisions on topics that you may not fully understand?  This is a dangerous situation.

3.  Most companies put out policies on what the employees can’t do versus showing them what they should be doing. Encourage the use through tutorials and best practices.

4.  Most companies don’t take mobile phones away from employees when they enter the company premise.  Facebook and Twitter apps run on almost all phones and I can guarantee your employees are on Twitter and Facebook whether you allow it or not.  Don’t you think it might be better to provide guidance?

5. Use this generation to “reverse mentor” senior executives on social media.  We have done this at Cisco in multiple groups and the results have been great for both the Gen Yer and the executive.  It’s a win/win scenario.

6.  What does it say about your culture if you block social media?  Does it show trust?  Recruitment will be difficult in the future.

7.  This is the most important thing to note.  The 50+ generation has always served as the voice of wisdom for the younger generations.  But we are at a point in time where things are moving so fast that the older generation with the wisdom is not using the technology.  How will the younger generation learn how to use these extremely powerful tools for good, and not bad?  How will they learn about the importance of sources, ethics in blogging, importance of privacy, expectations in the workplace and using social media for making the world a better place?  If we -- the current senior leaders of the world -- don’t use and understand these powerful instruments, how will our children learn?

Here are some other resources I encourage you to read:

I’ll close by reminding everyone to be their own “tech nowist” by learning, experimenting and leveraging what technology and tools are out there …now.

Have fun!
Carlos

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