Social technology use in the workplace often includes goals of enhancing productivity, influencing efficient collaboration and fostering a rich environment of communication. According to recent research by McKinsey & Company, 72% of all companies use social technology to conduct business. If you could solve the problems related to the trap of email use and increase communication and collaboration, wouldn’t you want to embrace the technology?
I explored the use of many social tools in my former product management and marketing roles. The free options of Slack were useful for my marketing team to keep information about events in one place. We eliminated confusion and increased collaboration, however, we did not cut down on the email messages to internal groups because of lack of buy-in across the organization. A recent McKinsey study shows the benefits of social technology tools in the workplace: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-social-economy
Just because other companies do something to change communication, does that mean your company should too? The decision to use a social technology should be based on how the company works collectively. A small business is typically more nimble and fast-paced, where a corporate workplace culture is a bit more complicated and information is often confidential. If a small business team was serious about shutting off email, it seems to be possible with tools like Slack or Yammer. Instant messaging tools seem more commonly used in corporations, cutting down on email slightly.
Consider the technology and communication tools already used by your organization including traditional social media platforms in order to determine the best fit for your employees.
I have outlined three social tools used in workplaces and review highlights of each tool:
Tagline: Where Work Happens
Slack integrates with other technologies like Google Docs, Zoom and Salesforce.
The tool is free for small teams with basic functionality. Plans are available ranging from monthly fee of $6.67 per user to $12.50 per user.
Helps organize conversations in one place
Calls (video and VOI) plus screen sharing
Tagline: Work Smarter, Work Together
Yammer is a Microsoft product.
Group functionality to store all things in one location
Helps prioritize and notify users of information
Integrates with Microsoft Office products
Pricing very comparable to Slack starting at $5/user and going up to $12 per user per month.
Salesforce created Chatter to help with business processes and sharing of data.
Integrate data and business processes/applications
Topic pages for content of interest to employees
Use groups for team discussions and collaboration
Pricing: Employee packages starting at $25/per user. Other options available based on volume and relationship with Salesforce.
Which social workplace tool is the best for your company?
It depends on the processes and culture of the business. Organizations should research how the use of social tools would fit in with their current practices or decide if there is a good reason to change the process by adding in a tool.
It’s no secret that productivity is important to a business. Being aware of the behaviors of employees that can be changed to increase employee effectiveness and satisfaction is central to a decision to implement a new social tool. Perhaps you can start with one team and the understanding that all the players must support the change and be engaged in the process every step of the way in order for it to become a habit.
Author: Melissa Goodson
Melissa Goodson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Business and Technology at The College of St. Scholastica, St. Paul campus where she teaches and develops courses for the MBA in Leadership & Change program. For over 12 years, she has worked in leadership roles in marketing communications, product management and strategic planning for media companies. She serves as a board member and Marketing & Communications Director for the Minnesota Organization Development Organization. Her professional interests include brand management, leadership development and organizational culture.