Best Practices for Employee Communities in Highly Regulated Industries

Photo used under Creative Commons 2.0 license. Photo by:  Seattle Municipal Archives

Photo used under Creative Commons 2.0 license. Photo by:  Seattle Municipal Archives

If you’re launching or (or possibly already have) an employee community in a highly-regulated industry, the myriad regulations that concern your leadership are definitely challenges. But even in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, financial services, or education, employee communities are still viable. Social tools such as Workplace by Facebook are enabling communication to be the bedrock of cultural change and in turn, companies can be more agile and responsive to outside forces.

In a 2016 McKinsey Global Survey on social tools, 93% of respondents said their companies used at least one social technology. In addition, the top three benefits of using social tools included:  real-time interaction, collaboration with specific groups, and cross-platform availability. Additionally, respondents believed those three features would be the ones that most improved how people work in the future.

If your company is in a highly-regulated industry, here are some simple ideas to get your planning started:

  • Use cases that present minimal risk. If customer privacy is important, choose to collaborate between groups where customer information and data won’t be discussed. Create spaces where people can discuss or disseminate information on company policies and practices rather than specific customers. Work with HR, legal, compliance and IT in partnership so they can have say and a stake in advance of your launch.
     
  • Visual reminders & learning examples. Tools such as “how to use the community” training events, visual display of dos and don’ts, a community playbook, and giving people ways to confidentially contact administrators when they see policy violations are ways you can ask your employees to help keep the community healthy. In your prominent display of terms of use, be sure to link to specific examples of both right and wrong.
     
  • Anticipate and map crisis response. Michelle O’Gara, Assistant Marketing Director at SBH Health System, a safety net community hospital in New York, recently attended a Talk Social to Me Bootcamp. She said, “We created a crisis response plan in anticipation of 2017’s winter storms here in the northeast. We had pre-planned how and who would take action and provide updates for our employees throughout our service locations if weather caused service disruptions.”
     
  • Monitoring. Inevitably, violations will happen and people will post information they shouldn’t. But chances are good they are truly accidents. With active monitoring, this material can be removed quickly. Teach your community Champions to actively monitor the parts of the community they work in. This distributes the community manager’s work and helps Champions experience a feeling of actively helping keep the community a positive place

In a regulated industry, it’s more important to focus on fostering a culture that welcomes employee engagement. When you plan and craft strong community use policies, you tackle the hard challenges of industry regulations in advance leaving more room for the community manager to encourage engagement, educate, and inspire employee participation. The pace of culture change will always be far outpaced by the speed of technology, but with the right strategies in place thriving employee communities are possible for every company.