HR must contend with enterprise social network challenges

Enterprise social networks like Slack and Yammer are gaining steam as alternatives to traditional email, but they can raise some concerns for HR managers.

Social media has become a part of many people's daily routines, with billions of users regularly checking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Some of these users have started to adopt similar tools in the workplace as alternatives to traditional email-based communication.

However, enterprise social networks can present challenges for HR managers and C-level executives if they are misused.  

Using enterprise social networks as personal social media sites

For companies using tools like Slack, Yammer or Microsoft Teams, it is not uncommon for employees to post messages or memes for non-work-related purposes. This can be problematic for HR if an employee posts content a co-worker finds offensive. HR must work with IT to identify ways to restrict and filter some of the content being posted, which may not always be a feature available in the tools.

Implementing data governance may be difficult

Modern collaboration tools have significantly changed the way we interact with content and each other. This is the result of a shift away from email to real-time messaging, along with audio/video communication capabilities and content sharing features that offer real-time co-authoring. The data enterprise social networks generate is different from traditional email messages and files, so applying existing policies can be more challenging when the data is locked inside applications like Microsoft Teams and Slack. IT must learn new ways to implement security and retention policies using the features available in those apps.

Limiting distractions

The obsession many of us have with checking our phones and email unfortunately tends to carry over into the workplace. This is concerning to HR managers because it can affect staff productivity. However, tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams offer a do not disturb option that can block notifications for a specified period of time.

Managing compliance

There are several compliance laws in the workplace around sexual harassment, bullying and the use of sensitive data. HR and IT may find themselves in situations where, after a reported incident, they are required to investigate a matter and determine if posted content broke one of these laws. IT can provide some assistance with content reviews, but not all enterprise social networks offer full access to employees' private messages. However, Microsoft Teams and Slack offer features that can assist with that.

With the new communication tools employees use outside of work, email will continue to lose its effectiveness within organizations. The rise of platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Yammer provide employees with a similar experience to what they already use in their personal life. But given the fast rate of adoption of enterprise social networks, HR and IT will have to implement policies and procedures to keep these tools from having negative consequences in the workplace.

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