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Effective Communication (on Social Media): A Remedy for Employee Complaints

Last week, I invited the Director of Human Resources (HR) at the Sheraton Syracuse University (SU) Hotel and Conference Center to speak in my Human Resource Management class, in which we discussed a few HR issues. One topic was about employee relations and complaints. For instance, what is the most common complaint among hotel employees? How should a HR manager deal with such complaint?

I expect the answer will vary among different HR managers. According to our guest speaker, the most-heard employee complaint is: “That is NOT fair.” Often times, employees do not feel they are treated equally because they misunderstand their managers, regardless of whether they have a valid complaint. In this case, effective communication can help.  

In Sheraton SU, for example, the Housekeeping Manager holds a pre-shift meeting every day to ensure that management’s expectations are effectively communicated in the department. The manager is perceived as a “tough guy” with high expectations, but because of effective communication, people in the department feel they are treated fairly (and toughly), and they have very few complaints. As a matter of fact, employees in the department also nominated the “tough guy” as an outstanding manager.    

What if a manager cannot host a pre-shift meeting every day? Are there any other remedies? Will an open door policy help? How about adopting a social media strategy for internal communications?  

I understand that there are organizations and managers still feeling reluctant to implement any social media strategies because of the privacy concerns, but the truth is not every social media tool is designed for public communications. A good case in point is Yammer. Even the most popular social media tools, such as Facebook groups, blogs (with restricted access), and Twitter (with restricted access) can be used for “private” communications. Social media itself is not a bad thing; it turns bad when a person or an organization does not know how to use it properly. In my opinion, social media is just another means of communication.

What do you think? Can social media be used for internal communications? How so? Are there any cases where companies use social media in dealing with employee relations and complaints?

Relevant discussion:

References:
The picture was downloaded from http://3204group7.wordpress.com

Comments

  1. Social media can be definitely a place for managers and employees to exchange information and communicate/negotiate expectations. However, face-to-face communication would convey richer information beyond words. Social media would serve as an alternative communication tool to complement face-to-face communication. With today's technology, I do not think it can replace face-to-face communication. Social media would be a venue that can nurture brainstorming and exchanges of innovative ideas.

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  2. I'm not sure I see the connection between a "tough guy" manager holding pre-shift meetings and social media. Beyond that, I think private blogs or private tweets aren't really any different than sending an email. Why add additional layers of communication/complication when their existing ones that can do the same things?

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    Replies
    1. First of all, I need to apologize, Nik. I should have invited you to post comments on the social media blog instead.

      To respond to your comment, I did not suggest Sheraton should give up the daily pre-shift meeting for social media. I was just saying for those who do not host daily pre-shift meeting could also use social media as an additional option.

      People get too many e-mails these days. They tend not to use their mobile devices to check updates, but they often get notifications if somebody mentions them on a tweet. In addition (maybe it is just me), I don't like people using "reply to all" in e-mail and receive 50 e-mails in one hour under the same topic --- that becomes annoying. If they put their comments on a blog, I can read through all the comments without opening 50 emails. Each communication tool has its strengths and weaknesses. I guess we just need to pick the best option for all.

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