Social media for communication inside the enterprise

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What Grant Thornton staff think of of the firm’s social network

  • 59% agree Jam helps them feel better connected to their wider team – 15% disagree;
  • 67% feel better connected to the business – 10% disagree;
  • 51% feel Jam has helped them to grow their personal network – 20% disagree;
  • 58% agree Jam has helped generate a better sense of one-firm community – 10% disagree;
  • 70% agree Jam allows them to express their opinions and ideas – 10% disagree;
  • 48% feel better informed about what the business is doing thanks to Jam – 16% disagree;
  • 80% feel Jam provides a social way of communicating about their work – 7% disagree;
  • 25% agree Jam makes it easier to find the information and expertise they need – 28% disagree;
  • 33% can work more effectively thanks to information and sharing on Jam – 28% disagree;
  • 54% feel they have benefitted from asking questions or sharing answers on Jam – 15% disagree;
  • 76% would recommend that their colleagues join up.

Source: Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton staff collaboration

Financial and business services and accounting firm Grant Thornton has gone much further in introducing social collaboration internally. The company has 4,800 staff and decided in 2012 to transform how it works internally, using social media.

“We wanted to change our brand – not just our logo, but the way our people interacted internally and with clients,” says Greg Swift, CIO at Grant Thornton.

The company’s corporate culture changed from one of risk-aversion, to expecting to use social media. “This is a huge shift that came from the top, our CEO,” says Swift.

Swift had the support of the board of directors and all service lines for his plans, which removed possible roadblocks: “We had vertical and horizontal support for this,” he says.

Grant Thornton started by developing practical rules, simple guidelines and establishing what Swift calls “an enabling culture”. He says the company had to learn when to move on, if something wasn’t working.

The company did not want to put people off getting involved – because cross-company participation was essential for success – but it did want to provide some guidance. “We did not want this to sound heavy, because that is the first thing to turn people off,” says Swift, adding that the company wanted staff to learn through participation. He says it was important project leaders understood social collaboration is not for everyone, and it didn’t “ram it down people’s throats”.

Avoiding the pitfalls of internal social media

The company came up with ten rules for using social media internally, which Swift describes as “really just common sense”. It also created a centre of excellence to support users and provide training.

He says the biggest worries about people misusing social media, which can be both embarrassing and legally risky, are largely overcome by staff behaving themselves on social media because they know people such as the CEO are also participating. “Knowing that members of the board are following you on Twitter is the best social media contraceptive. It is not going to stop me doing it, but I am going to do it safely.”

So Grant Thornton’s company-wide Social Business Programme was born.

It was already using social media but not internally, across the whole company. “We were already doing social with things like LinkedIn and Twitter, but did not get too involved as a company, because we thought people should have their own accounts that aren’t linked to the company, so when they leave it is no longer associated with us.”