The three ways Social Media helps get stuff done at work

By: Elizabeth Williams

It’s become a bit of a corporate sport to blame Millennial employees for some of the disruptive changes we’re seeing in the workplace. Here’s the thing: It’s not the Millennials, it’s the rest of us that caused the disruption. Most Millennials were in high chairs when remote working, LinkedIn and virtual teams became a reality. Millennials didn’t invent social media or mobile devices, and they aren’t the ones trying to reduce costs, drive collaboration or manage talent. They’re just trying to get stuff done with the tools they have, most of which are mobile apps based on social collaboration platforms. And this is really good news.

Recruiting scales big time

Your recruiters will tell you they were social before social was a thing, and, according to Career Enlightenment, 94 percent of them are using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to source new talent. In fact, nearly a third of all Google searches are employment related and 73 percent of 18-34 year-olds found their last job through social networks1. Specialized services such as TalentBin use big data technology to mine social media and root out top people for hard-to-fill roles based on their social media activity and reputation.

Candidates use sites such as Glassdoor and tap into their networks for a closer look at a prospective employer. As labour markets tighten, recruiters will be looking to build and nurture pools of candidates they can connect with online and tap to fill key positions as they come up.

Now is the time for employers to look to their Millennial (and GenX and Boomer) employees to help scale the recruiting function not just by sharing job postings, but referring people from their networks to the talent pool, even when there is no specific role to fill.

Training is cheaper (and better)

Much as Uber has disrupted the taxi industry without buying a single car, and AirBnB has reinvented accommodation without owning any property, so, too have Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) changed the way professionals learn without hiring any instructors. The same approach that has made organizations such as the Kahn Academy a consumer success, is already making inroads into the $150-billion corporate training industry. More than 35 million people have completed online learning in the last four years alone.2

One tech company’s employees, for example, can now earn university certificates for under $100 each. When you stack that up against a traditional executive education, the business case is pretty compelling for online learning. McAfee estimates its MOOC sales training creates up to $500,000 in new revenue each year2. The staffing firm, Aquent has also jumped on the MOOC model and built its own program, called Gymnasium, to offer its 8,000 employees free skills training for the most in-demand roles. Aquent marries job posting data from its clients with program completion data from its MOOC platform to place candidates in hard-to-fill roles. They estimate their initial $150,000 investment paid back more than 10 times over in its first year alone3.

Social Fuels Collaboration

The connection between productivity and the use of tools such as Sharepoint, Google Hangouts, Trello and internal portals is clear. A McKinsey study found that some industries, such as retail and professional services, can increase productivity by 20 to 25 percent using social collaboration4. Yet some employers still restrict employee access to social media in the workplace or ban the use of smart devices, except during break times.

Companies have known for years that online collaboration is cost-effective, and many rushed out to build intranets, collaboration sites and other platforms that sit unused and outdated while employees use other tools to work together. The key to platform adoption is two-fold: first, start with a platform your employees are already using and familiar with. Second, if you are trying to consolidate your social platforms, it’s key to have your senior leadership visibly and actively using the platform of choice.

Rosemary Turner, President of United Parcel Service’s Northern California Division is a great example. She uses Twitter to stay in touch with 17,000 drivers and employees, sharing everything from employee recognition to road closures in real time. She chose Twitter because the majority of the employees were already using it, and its short-form messaging works well with the work UPS does.5

Another benefit of large scale social collaboration is the opportunity for HR leaders and other executives to listen to the workforce. Annual surveys are giving way to the real-time listening and continual feedback that social media platforms enable.

How do you use social media to be more productive and collaborative?

This post is adapted from a presentation at DisruptHR Winnipeg, 2017. Click here to watch the video.


1. Career Enlightenment

2. Use Of MOOCs And Online Education Is Exploding: Here’s Why. Forbes, January 2016.

3. Hacking Hack Schools to Make Them Work. Fast Company, January 2014.

4. The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. McKinsey Global Institute, 2012.

5. Listen, share connect: A social media primer. The Globe and Mail, April, 2015.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Williams is Director of Brand and Communications at ADP Canada.

Related Insights

Light my Bond-Fire of the Vanities
Grow, Plan

A Publication of BMO Capital Markets Economic Research By: Douglas Porter, CFA, Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets You know that …

Making ISO 20022 work for Canadian corporations
Plan, Transform

Previously Published on Payments Business Magazine By Kate Risch Choi, BMO Harris Bank In Canada’s rapidly modernizing payment environment many companies are …

How to Succeed in the Gig Economy
Grow, Plan

A Publication of BMO Wealth Exchange The “gig economy” is sweeping through the Canadian work force and making headlines. More …