While Valentine’s Day is traditionally the time to show your sweetheart how much you care, we think that employers should mark this occasion by showing their employees how much they value them.
Here at Mashable, we’ve pooled our collective knowledge to bring you ten tech and social media-related ways in which you can show your employees the love, from giving them greater freedom online to actively seeking feedback on your business practices.
So read on, and whether you’re the boss, middle management or merely a minion, let us know your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.
1. Don’t Block Social Networks
It’s been proven that employees with free access to the Internet are more productive than those without. A University of Melbourne study showed that those who surfed for fun (within a “reasonable limit” of 20% of their time in the office) were around 9% more productive than those who didn’t.
The reason behind this is that taking regular short breaks from work can rest the mind, leading to better concentration, and therefore, better productivity.
There’s always going to be an exception to the rule, but we say show your staff you trust them to keep their social time online reasonable, and they will reward your trust.
2. Allow Browser Freedom
Keep your employees’ choice of software and online tools as free as possible. For example, don’t force your staff to use Internet Explorer. Your I.T. guys might prefer it to keep things simple, but with the add-ons and extensions available for the likes of Firefox and Chrome, you will likely find your staff is more productive using their browsers of choice.
3. Work in the Cloud
A work-from-home day is always useful for employees waiting on deliveries or with child care issues. By putting as much of your company’s shared content in the cloud as possible, it frees up your staff by offering more flexibility. This will also show your staff you trust them to work well, even when you’re not looking over their shoulders.
From a productivity point of view (as the recent Snowmageddon has shown), making your systems available remotely means work does not have to grind to a halt should adverse weather conditions make commuting impossible.
4. Don’t Ban Personal Cell Phones
It may be tempting to ban personal cell phones from the workplace, but just think of how that move affects your staff. Imagine the worry that can be created over not being able to be easily contacted, especially in cases of emergency.
Face it — one-off personal calls are probably not going to affect your balance sheet as much as employee unhappiness.
5. Friend/Follow Your Employees
Be sure to friend and follow your employees on mainstream social networks, not to check up on them, but to show you value them as people as well as staff. This is especially relevant for companies that describe themselves as “social.” How do you think an employee of such a company feels when they’ve not been friended by the boss?
6. Even Better, Set Up a Company Social Network
Set up a social network for your company on a platform such as Ning or Yammer. Your company’s social site is not going to give Facebook a run for its money any time soon, but it’s a really great way for everyone to find out a little more about each other, and show your staff you are interested in them without intruding on their personal online life.
7. Set Up Company Music Playlists
Allow music in the office (maybe just for set time periods, i.e., for an hour over lunch) and create company music playlists. The varied music taste of your staff will no doubt surprise you.
One way to do this is to share iTunes playlists across your company network. Collaborating on fun things as well as work is a great way to improve team dynamics.
8. Offer Rewards For Location-Based Service Achievements
Location-based social networking can be a fun way to incentivize your staff. Why not reward those that check in to your workplace the most? Think of it like a school’s good attendance achievement, and reward accordingly. This should help foster some healthy competitiveness among your staff, as well as show them you notice who is turning up to work.
For guidance, check out these unique uses of Foursquare in the workplace.
9. Feature All Your Staff on Your Company Website
Give every single member of your staff a brief profile and a pic on your company website. This will demonstrate that every person who works in your organization — right down to the office cleaner — contributes, not just the bigwigs.
Additionally, consider letting all employees take turns to write posts for the company blog — there’s nothing like giving someone a voice to make them feel valued.
10. Set Up an Online Comments System
Set up an online system for feedback to give staff a virtual suggestion box for improvements. No one knows more about your company processes (whether that’s which clients are likely to go for a last-minute deal or when the copier jams) than your employees.
Show how much you value their input by setting up an online forum to share feedback and offer ideas for improvements, which others can view and comment on.
Most importantly, be sure to read every single comment that your staff takes the time to type, and respond and take action when appropriate.