How Manufacturers Can Engage Their Workers Through Social Media

“It takes too much time.”

“I would rather not have my workers on social media sites at work.”

“What if someone posts a negative comment about my business?”

Just some of the thoughts and questions that can come up when you start talking about social media as a tool for employee engagement in the manufacturing space.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler recently held a roundtable series for financial executives at area manufacturing companies. The topic: how social media, specifically Facebook, can help with employee engagement. A recent Gallup poll shows that two thirds of American workers are not engaged at work. The numbers are even less encouraging in the manufacturing industry. If workers aren’t engaged, that means they may not stay. As manufacturers struggle to find workers, the last thing they want is to lose the good people they have.

“Your Not-So-Secret Weapon for Employee Engagement” presentations in Maumee and Findlay offered up some out of the box ideas. Attendees heard from manufacturing companies in northwest Ohio that are using Facebook to engage their workers. Among the speakers: Andrea Kramer of City Dry Cleaning in Findlay, Caitlin Lake of Toledo transportation company Bolt Express and Heidi Bollin from Toledo’s Bollin Label Systems.  Carl Dettmer from Workforce & Community Services at Owens Community College also added his perspective to the panel discussions.

Some of the key takeaways from the panel discussions:

  • Facebook is your opportunity to tell your company’s story for free. It can help give your team a sense of community and can also give potential recruits a look at what it’s like to work there.
  • Posting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Select one of your workers already active on social media and designate them. Giving someone the responsibility shows you value their input and trust their judgement (another engaged employee).
  • Make sure your posts align with your company’s core values and strategy. Also remember that this is a place to have some fun and show your company’s personality.
  • Establish a social media policy so all of your people are aware of appropriate content for social media and acceptable time spent on social media sites in the workplace.
  • Job postings are fine, but won’t necessarily get a lot of shares. Anything that conveys your company culture will help show “who you are” to the world.
  • Always post pictures or video if possible to get more interaction with your Facebook posts.
  • Ideas for posts are all around you: show a quick meeting at your facility, an award to an employee, the wedding picture of a newly married worker, company picnic or event. Other ideas for posts: welcome your new hires, show young people shadowing for the day or tour groups.
  • Showcase products and services in a more casual setting. Avoid the direct sales pitch.
  • If someone posts a negative comment, view it as a customer service opportunity in front of the world. If you handle it professionally, you’re showing everyone how you handle a difficult situation.
  • Be aware that if your company isn’t on Facebook, the social media site may have created an “unofficial page” for your business that people could be posting and tagging to right now. We found many of the companies attending our roundtable events had these “unofficial” Facebook pages and didn’t even know it. People were posting questionable and sometimes inappropriate material. Claim your unofficial page and take control of it.
  • Remember, if you’re looking to engage younger potential employees, it’s a new era: social media is how millennials communicate. This is where they are, and this is where they will go to look for your business.

Other topics tackled at the GJM Manufacturing & Distribution Financial Executive Roundtables: House Bill 523, the legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio. Labor and Employment lawyer Sarah Pawlicki of Eastman & Smith helped manufacturers prepare for this major change in their workplaces. GJM Tax Partner Steve Schult also shared information about WOTC (Work Opportunity Tax Credit). The tax credit applies in the hiring of certain employees including veterans, the long-term unemployed and many other populations. GJM’s tax professionals are working with many of our clients right now to see if they could benefit from WOTC.

GJM established the Manufacturing & Distribution Financial Executive Roundtable after learning that area manufacturers needed a way to come together to share their challenges and successes. Previous roundtable topics have included mergers & acquisitions, company culture and the state of Ohio manufacturing.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers comprehensive financial services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory and healthcare management. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing/distribution and utilities.

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