With labour shortages and the recruitment of skilled staff as one of the top three issues for private companies in the next 12 months, social media can be a powerful way to attract and retain new talent, according to PwC.
And 34 per cent of companies plan to use social media to do just that, found its 2012 Business Insights Survey.
"Social media allows companies to take a targeted approach to finding the right talent and speaks directly to millennials, a demographic group that has grown up with technology," said Aayaz Pira, director of management and technology consulting at PwC. "Millennials expect to use the same technology in their personal and professional life in order to be productive in their jobs. If they realize companies are not using social media inside the organization, it's going to be difficult to retain that talent."
However, when it comes to employee engagement, only 16 per cent of respondents using social media plan to use it to foster internal collaboration, found the survey of 400 Canadian private companies CEOs.
This is another area of improvement for private company leaders as employees are “self-sumers,” meaning they have their own technology preferences enabling them to work more efficiently and they enjoy working together using social networks, said Pira.
"The ability to collaborate and create new ideas with peers and companies in real time is quickly becoming one of the key differentiators between companies that can versus companies that can't.”
Eighty-one per cent of private companies said they want to grow and expand, relying primarily on sales and marketing as well as gaining market share from their competitors to do so. And more than one-half (53 per cent) said mobile computing is their priority when it comes to technology development, while 47 per cent also said they plan to use social media for sales and marketing purposes.
"Mobile and social media platforms are transforming the way business gets done," said Tahir Ayub, PwC's Canadian private company services leader. "If Canadian private company leaders are looking to grow their top line, they need to have a very good understanding of technology in general — but if they don't, they need to invest the time in overcoming that learning curve because it's a business imperative."
However, only 13 per cent of CEOs who are using social media plan to use it to develop new products.
"This is a huge missed opportunity,” said Pira. “Social media gives consumers a voice to be part of the business and the ability to collaborate with companies to develop the products and services they want."
One-quarter of the survey’s respondents also said they have no plans to invest in mobile while 28 per cent said they don't plan to use social media at all.
"This reflects organizations unaware of the factors involved with managing social media, such as cost and labour, the lack of knowledge around the return on investment, and being weary of risks associated with social media,” said Pira.
"Businesses need to make an investment in social media before than can determine the overall return. In order for them to be effective and stay head of their competitors, they need to continue to innovate by embracing and using social media and other digital technologies.”
Driving change from the top
For organizations to innovate and initiate change, the push has to start from the top. Seventy-seven per cent of the company leaders surveyed said they clearly communicate their company's business focus on innovation as a priority.
"Organizations and people are naturally resistant to change," said Ayub. "And what has the greatest impact on that is the leader of a company. When leadership embraces and rewards change, it cascades down throughout the organization, regardless of its size."
The 2012 Business Insights Survey can be found at PwC.
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