Tweeting to keep staff in touch
Written by: by Samantha Crous, CRF Institute Regional Director: Africa and Benelux
Social media is becoming more and more pervasive and has already been entrenched as a tool for external marketing, however what about internal communication? New research shows it might be groundbreaking there as well.
Harnessing social media for business purposes has been firmly embraced by the savviest companies, and recent research shows that lately, the country’s best employers are relying on it heavily for internal communications as well.
“Data from the CRF Institute shows that amongst certified Top Employers in South Africa, there has been 171 percent increase from 2011 to 2012 in using social media to communicate with staff,” said Samantha Crous, CRF Institute Regional Director: Africa & Benelux.
“Of course, there is always the risk that social media will hinder communication, as the informality of the medium can encourage fast and loose language use or an unprofessional tone. But for some, using social media is the only way to keep internal communication alive – language gap or no language gap.”
The CRF Institute is the organisation behind the international Top Employers projects, which certifies the country’s top employees annually. In these projects, the company independently researches and audits the HR policies and employee offerings of leading companies in over 45 countries across the globe
Technology company Avanade, a certified Top Employer, said it has had no problem with communication breakdowns or unprofessionalism – but rather, that social media has contributed positively to the company culture.
HR manager Carmen Short said staff members have been self-regulating, using their discretion to create clear, readable and professional posts. She said: “We have had no concerning tweets.”
Avanade has launched its own social media platform for internal use. “We use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for external communication, and Microsoft Lync and SharePoint for internal communication within the company,” said Short.
“Social media is one of those platforms where communication, innovation and best practices are shared daily.”
The UK-based community Vets Now, meanwhile, uses a social media platform to communicate with staff because their employees work in isolation, with only animals for company. Without the platform, there’s no communication at all.
“It is no coincidence that GIBS and UCT GSB are running social media executive programmes,” said entrepreneur Mike Stopforth. “There is a need for education in this new arena. When technology leaps forward, find a way to harness and leverage it; don't avoid the trend - you will regret it later.”
Writer Joel Don echoes that the technical generation gap is closing, and that companies who do not keep up will have cause for regret. “The trend is going against the laggards,” he said. “Research from the Pew Research Centre continues to showcase increasing numbers of Baby Boomer generation members gravitating to social networks.”
Benefits and risks
Communication specialist Amanda Laird points out that internally, social media use has far more benefits than risks.
She said: “You make your employees feel heard, you can promote new products and services, reach staff faster, build relationships, increase internal brand awareness and position your organisation as a group of thought leaders.”
Crous added: “Social media is essential, to brainstorm, to educate and to share knowledge. It’s a tool for creating a positive working environment. Moreover, staff can be incentivised to use social media externally as well – competitions for who posts the most Tweets, who has the most followers, et cetera – which, as a reward system, compounds staff’s positive feelings about the company.”
She believes that it’s a good idea to use a dedicated internal platform for internal communications, so as to “keep internal issues internal”.
However, she adds that excessive monitoring of content can do more harm than good. “Seeking to control the conversation can be prohibitive to making social media work for the organisation in building authentic lines of communication,” she said. “Knowing where to draw the line between a healthy communication policy and monitoring, and control is critical.”
Crous adds that content should be read regularly, partly for monitoring purposes and partly so that employees feel that they are being heard. Real names should be used, to facilitate honesty and accountability, and workshops should be held with communication guidelines.
“In addition, encourage the use of plain English – not SMS-speak or jargon – and set clear rules, but not so many that people lose track. And focus on positive content.”
Most importantly, said Crous, the company culture should be taken care of at ground level, so that underlying issues are prevented before they arise. “If you have sound HR policies in place and your staff is happy, it’s likely that social media comments will be positive as well,” she said. “A strong organisational culture goes a long way.”
Expo 2020: SAP Ariba to Digitise and Automate Procurement
Expo 2020, a World Expo that is set to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was originally scheduled to run from 20th October 2020 until 10th April 2021, but, as with just about everything in the world of supply chain, the COVID-19 pandemic forced event organisers to postpone the highly-anticipated get-together. The new date for the Expo, which will be hosted in the Dubai Exhibition Centre, spanning across a 438-hectare space, is Friday 1st October, until 31st March 2022. But, there will be limitations to who can and cannot attend the event, so SAP has stepped in to fix the problem.
What is Expo 2020?
‘Expo 2020 and SAP have run a series of onboarding summits for Expo’s valued supply chain network. As Expo’s procurement needs shift from construction to interior fit-outs, facilities management and technology services, Expo 2020 and SAP will continue to provide ongoing one-on-one support, including a dedicated helpdesk, to guide suppliers throughout the evolution to digital transactions and processes.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which will open its doors to the world from 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022, is the first World Expo and only the second mega-event to secure a Procurement Excellence Award from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.’
SAP Ariba’s Solution
In a recent announcement, it was told that more than 25,000 of Expo 2020 Dubai’s local and global suppliers would benefit from a real-time, unified digital procurement and payment platform, thanks to technology provided by SAP, the events Innovative Enterprise Software Partner.
The solution, provided by SAP Ariba, will supposedly fully digitise and automate the procure-to-pay lifecycle, providing a streamlined digital experience for Expo 2020’s suppliers while simultaneously enhancing transparency and efficiency across the event’s global supply chain. ‘The global technology company’s cloud-based SAP Ariba procurement solutions run on its UAE public cloud data centre and connect to Ariba Network enabling buyers and suppliers to connect and transact’, according to SAP.
Mohammed AlHashmi, Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: ‘Expo 2020 is a long-term investment in the future that aims to enhance opportunities for sustainable business connectivity and growth in both domestic and international economies. Our partnership with SAP is an example of what can be achieved with the invaluable support of our technology partners to host one of the most digitally advanced World Expos ever. The implementation of SAP Ariba solutions has transformed our end-to-end procure-to-pay cycle and helped set new standards of procurement automation for projects of this scale.’
Through SAP Ariba’s collaborative and mobile-friendly platform, any registered suppliers at Expo 2020 will be able to participate in sourcing events and the negotiation and signing of contracts; users will also be able to submit invoices and track payments in real-time. According to the platform, Expo 2020 has already transacted in excess of AED 1 billion on the platform, ‘highlighting its commitment to driving long-term business growth in the region and beyond, with a particular focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).’
Claudio Muruzabal, President of EMEA South, SAP, said: ‘Expo 2020 Dubai is demonstrating global best practices in digitising its procurement process with SAP Ariba solutions to help gain visibility into its spend, tighten collaboration with its suppliers, and achieve process automation, including completely paperless invoicing. Expo 2020 has already brought more than AED 1 billion in spend under management with SAP Ariba solutions.’