Former AHRI CEO Serge Sardo finds out from Deloitte’s Peter Williams why social connectivity aligned to strategy can build strong organisations.
Serge Sardo: What are some of the more positive impacts social media has had on organisations?
Peter Williams: Social media can breed openness and transparency.
We have found that the people who were most active on social media tended in be in groups that were more profitable with better net revenue growth, higher staff engagement and lower staff turnover.
SS: Has social media contributed in any negative way to organisation function?
PW: Internal social media is different to external social media, where in the past 12 months we’ve seen a lot of trolls and so on. But at work nobody wants to look like an idiot in front of their workmates. Our culture doesn’t tolerate discrimination or people bagging each other. I think this cultural underpinning is why we haven’t had problems.
SS: Why is it then that only the really progressive organisations have started to use social media?- Why is there such reluctance to use it as a tool?
PW: I think most of our leaders grew up in a world that was about command and control and I don’t think they’ve really understood the importance of connectivity and collaboration inside their organisations. In this world of social media, organisations can either see the light or feel the heat.
Often it’s the IT people who are concerned with security and what can go wrong as opposed to what the benefits are.
SS: Do you think CEOs want to ban social media because they keep hearing all the things that can wrong, as opposed to what works?
PW: If we see something that is really massive and we don’t understand it we have two choices: put our heads in the sand and hope it goes away or understand that the world is changing, and participate and understand it. Sure it could get messy but it’s going to get a hell of a lot messier if you ignore the trend for 10 years.
SS: What advice would you give a HR exec who wants to adopt social media internally?
PW: It’s not just about having a Facebook page. It’s looking at goals and how social media can help accomplish them. Then you can go back to executives and say “There’s your strategy and here are organisations that have been able to generate return on investments from social media. Let’s start learning by doing”.
About Peter Williams
Peter Williams is chief edge officer at Deloitte’s Centre for the Edge, the Australian chapter of the Silicon Valley Applied Research Centre, chaired by technology luminaries John Hagel III and John Seely Brown. The Centre’s mission is to identify and explore emerging opportunities related to big shifts that aren’t yet on the senior management agenda, but ought to be. Williams has been involved with internet technology since 1993 and been the chairman of Deloitte’s Innovation Council since 2004. He has been involved in numerous innovation projects for Deloitte and clients over the course of his career.
Getting your company to embrace social media
Tips from the Deloitte frontline
Build your employee brand
We ran a social media campaign over the past few months asking staff to share stories on someone who lives one of our seven value statements. We got 500 to 600 stories a week. For our partners’ conference, we ran a one-minute video competition where staff could tell partners what they need to be doing to have the right stuff. We promoted it through Yammer, posted the videos on social sites and played them throughout the partners’ conference. It’s changed the culture – engagement scores have gone through the roof.
In 2008 we felt the best pool of talent was the networks of our staff, so we built a Facebook plug-in called Join me at Deloitte. Employee referral is now our major source of recruitment, which we’ve expanded to include Twitter and LinkedIn. On our Deloitte Facebook page, Your Future at Deloitte, we use a social media tool called Get Satisfaction and it’s branded Ask a Deloittian, so people interested in working here can pose questions to people on the ground – the HR people use this all the time.
We have an internal Yammer account for internal job placements in order to retain talent who like the firm but want to move on in their careers.
Engagement and diversity
The cultural diversity program works through internal social media, where there are groups for people who are passionate about sustainability, a Deloitte Mums group for staff on maternity leave or those who have just come back, and a LGBT group..
We have reverse mentoring where young digital natives can teach old digital dinosaurs. – Peter Williams