Reimagining the Water Cooler for Your Employees in 140 Characters or Less
The water cooler is bone dry.
Truthfully, in many offices and organizations, the water cooler is gone altogether. (You know, trying to save the planet and all.)
From a blatantly literal perspective, I imagine the water cooler became a mainstay in corporate spaces to hydrate employees, plain and simple. But as our thirst for interaction with colleagues grew, and we spent more and more time communicating in general, the water cooler evolved into a place to share opinions, brainstorm ideas, and hey – to take a little break from the daily grind too.
In a figurative sense, the water cooler existed as a social mechanism. It’s a symbol of community, a mediator of discussion and engagement. People would see their colleagues getting up to grab a drink, and see it as a cue to break up the day-to-day monotony and start a conversation.
And with many choosing to eliminate a centralized location used to establish common ground, where does that leave their employees? How do they come together and speak about what they’re working on, their families, the Oscars, or if that damn dress is black and blue or white and gold?
No, Twitter isn’t new per se. But a recent study determined that just over 50% of employers are using social media for internal communication, and of those companies, only four in 10 rated social media as effective.
This means there’s a near majority of brands who aren’t creating a community for their employees, or nurturing a platform of togetherness and mutual respect. With the Millennial majority alive and well, organizations must foster and maintain employee engagement like never before, or risk losing their top talent.
To me, this is a no-brainer.
Twitter is like a water cooler that’s always filled to the brim. With Dom Pérignon.
With limitless potential and real-time engagement that can take place no matter where an employee is based, that water cooler in the little corner of the office near Suzie’s desk becomes a mobile, inter-connected global hub of knowledge in the palms of your employees’ hands.
So how can Twitter help your business?
Well, for starters, take advantage of the fact that a significant chunk of your employees (especially the Millennials) are desperate to affiliate themselves with your brand, talk about the exciting projects they’re working on, and become advocates for your products and services.
But Twitter is also good for:
Upping Your Communication
Your people want to be kept in the loop, but not by sitting in never-ending meetings that go in circles. Share brand strategy and future plans for the organization that will make ALL of your employees feel like they’re a part of something bigger than their title. Use relevant hashtags to curate the content, and while you’re at it, engage your people on what you’re sharing with them. What do they think about the direction you’re headed in?
If used properly, hashtags are a brilliant way to draw your employees in and get them discussing important issues. All someone in your New York office has to do is use the designated hashtag you’ve created, and next thing you know, his or her colleague in Toronto is throwing in their two cents. From there, both employees discover that they have a mutual contact or common interest based on the projects they’re working on and BOOM: relationship established, connection made, alignment 101.
How easy is it to organize a meet-up for drinks after the work day is done by sending out a quick tweet? Or better yet, determine an element of your organization or business that you feel your employees either need or want to know about and organize a TwitterChat. That’s right – pick a day of the week, time, topic and maybe even a guest from your senior management team or external influencer – and sit back and enjoy the engagement. Your people will learn something new, and more importantly, spend time hearing insights from their colleagues.
If you’re still not convinced that Twitter is for you, think of it this way: your employees (again, especially the Millennials) are going to be using social media throughout their work day. For better or worse, tweets will be sent, Facebook posts posted… things go viral and happen so quickly that everybody feels compelled to be plugged in.
So why not leverage that in the way your organization does business? Create an environment where social media and above all else, being social, is embraced and encouraged. Let your employees channel the energy and enthusiasm that you’ve built by creating an engaged culture in a way that spreads your message and promotes your brand.
The fact that an everyday office fixture like the water cooler could unite and stimulate employees simply strengthens my support for Twitter in the workplace. It’s time to re-imagine that concept by harnessing the technology available to all of us. Successful brands recognize that in today’s Social Age, an organization is only as good as its people are in 140 characters or less.
How does your organization use Twitter? Do you feel like there are other ways to employ Twitter in an effort to drive engagement from employees? Please share your thoughts with me in the Comments section below.
*Originally published on March 3, 2015 for MillennialCEO.com*