ORLANDO, Fla. – Organizations with trust issues shouldn’t bother embracing Facebook, Twitter or any other social technology platform until they can build that trust.
That was the advice Tuesday from China Gorman, CEO of the San Francisco-based Great Places to Work Institute, in a presentation on opening day of the three-day Human Capital Summit and Expo.
“If your culture is built on trust, then you can look at social technology as a tool. A very powerful tool,” Gorman said.
And if it’s not?
Well, then work to address those trust issues first, she said. Because without that culture in place, the adoption of these social tech tools won’t be at the level needed to make much difference, or at least a positive one.
Organizations that use social tech to collaborate and innovate, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study that Gorman cited, report productivity gains of up to 25 percent.
Gorman’s firm surveys more than 1 million employees annually at more than 6,500 companies to produce, among other rankings, Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
A great place to work, she said, is one where you trust the people you work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people you work with.
A recent Google study of 2,400 professionals, she said, found that 76 percent believe businesses that embrace social tools will grow faster than those who ignore the technology.
Frequent users of social tools were more likely to have recently been promoted, feel satisfied with their jobs and recommend their workplace to others, she said.
Still, many organizations remain uncomfortable with the transparency associated with social media.
That’s to be expected, she said, because social tech challenges traditional leadership, raises security and legal concerns and invites negative comments in a public forum.
The big question that employers should ask themselves, Gorman said, is what people really would see if the walls were brought down.
Taco Bell, she said, suffered a public relations black eye after a photo appeared on social media showing what appeared to be an employee licking a stack of taco shells. On the other hand, another restaurant chain was able to burnish its brand reputation by using social media to tell its customers that it donates unserved food to needy families.
The big advantages in using social tech, she said, include its ability to enhance communication, collaboration and innovation, branding, recruiting, training and development.
In a quick poll of the audience, Gorman found that most companies are still trying to find their social tech footing.
She also affirmed what so many other similar surveys have concluded: that the C-Suite is filled with executives nervous and skeptical about social tech.
Organizations that can overcome those concerns, she said, will have a much easier time moving forward in any effort to incorporate social media into what they do.
The good news from her poll? Nearly as many in the audience said their senior leadership was excited about social tech as those still questioning whether it might backfire.