Editorial note: From time to time, we do guest posts here to mix up the content and the perspectives. This post was penned by Luc Glasbeek, a colleague of ours here at Oracle. Luc has maintained one of the most active internal blogs at Oracle for several years and is now taking a little break from that with a view to starting a new (external) blog some time over the next couple of months.
Luc’s areas of interest are social media, knowledge management, and creativity in business. I thought we’d give Luc a new forum here to get him started on his odyssey. Let him know your thoughts about this post, blogging at Oracle, etc. in the comments. Jake
In a bid to protect their image in the market place, most companies by now have a social media participation policy.
However, this isn’t preventing employees from expressing their (critical) personal views about their employer publicly on the internet. They just do so anonymously.
For instance, the salary comparison website Glassdoor.com has plenty of comments that employers wouldn’t want to be associated with. Still, the information is there, and it’s increasingly a force to be reckoned with.
Companies struggle to respond, and typically it’s going to be one of the following two scenarios:
- Ignore the issue
This is about disregarding the bad press, hoping it won’t turn sour by attracting too much attention.
- Suppress the issue
Here the company is taking legal action against the employee (if known), deny there’s any truth in the claims made, and summon the website to remove the content. This can be very costly and tends to generate loads of bad PR.
In either case there isn’t much to gain for the companies involved.
But let’s take a step back here, and consider the following: First of all, the employee may have a point. Second, social media is about conversations.
Rather than trying to curb ‘corporate disobedience’ through policies and legal action or ignoring it altogether, which in my view is getting less and less effective, my general recommendation would be to engage in a conversation on the topic whenever possible.
So I’d say, investigate any issues further internally and articulate a sensible (video?) response. It might be:
“One of our employees posted this video online. Even though we prefer our staff to raise any issues to their management directly, we looked into this and thought the employee had a point. So we’ve made a few changes. We thought you’d want to know as they directly benefit our customers. What we’ve changed is X, Y, and Z.”
Even if a video doesn’t explicitly mention a company name, businesses might want to proactively look into the matter:
“We’re not sure if the video was aimed at us. But it doesn’t matter. We loved it, and it’s inspired us to review our internal policies, trying to remove needless complexity. Keep them coming!”
If possible show the company’s creative side. Take the sting out of it. Turn it into a positive. Be proactive. Use critical employee messages on the internet as a catalyst for change. And sail close to the wind.
I would argue that this ‘third way’ would have the best outcome for all parties involved.
I’d be really interested to have your perspectives on the above…. What do you think?