Masterclass: How to use internal social networks

23 Jan 2020 By Emma Tobin

ISNs provide a sense of community and offer insight into employee opinions and feelings, says Emma Tobin, but there are several steps to take before they can be implemented

The trend of using internal social networks (ISNs) – or enterprise networks – within HR stems from people using social media externally. External platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become a preferred way to get information and communicate with each other outside of work. 

Using an ISN such as Yammer, Slack or Microsoft Teams provides a window into how the organisation is feeling, and gives further insight into the real hot topics for colleagues, which is important from an HR perspective. 

As well as providing a sense of community by allowing people across the business who may never meet a chance to share common issues and give support, it also offers junior members of staff a chance to express their views where perhaps they didn’t before.

It is important to consider why you want to implement an ISN and also who will be using it. You should think about company demographics and whether they access external social media outside of work, as an ISN should be as user-friendly as possible. 

Feedback from staff on their preferred methods of communication and feelings toward social media is essential when considering a rollout. It is also beneficial to use the platform yourself to get a sense of its capabilities and if it is the right fit for your organisation. 

Creating a set of basic guidelines around ISN usage is important to ensure nothing inappropriate is shared and confidentiality isn’t breached. ISN ‘champions’ should be appointed to assist with crucial senior management buy-in, alongside ‘super users’ to help navigate any technical issues or teething problems. 

Once implemented, a well thought-out ISN can remove the legwork of solving many common HR issues, and can be used as a way to conduct pulse checks on employee opinions and feelings, as well as sharing good news across the business. However, it isn’t for the faint-hearted, as HR departments will have to take an active role in monitoring and ‘policing’ the network too.

Emma Tobin is head of internal communications for retail at William Hill

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