Communicating With Employees Via Social Media: Connecting In A Crisis

November 25, 2013

More and more, much of our daily communication is through digital means, with emails, text messages, and social media adding to and often replacing phone calls and newspapers. So how does a company manage when they need to reach, in some cases, thousands of employees? Most companies will utilize their company email to connect with their employees.

But what happens when that resource is unavailable? When flooding hit Calgary in June, roads were shut down and there was no water or power to affected areas including the downtown core where approximately 350,000 individuals come to work every day. The result affected company network servers which left companies looking for alternative ways other than email to communicate and stay in contact with their employees.

Interestingly, many companies took to their social media outlets to keep people informed of the workplace situation and also what was going on around the city. Here’s how some of Calgary’s largest oil sands companies located in the downtown core used social media:

Shell Canada: Facebook and Twitter were the main sources that kept employees up-to-date on the status of the company and its offices. Shell showed that its priority was its employees during this time by ensuring other relevant information was communicated including school closures, information on evacuation centres, and other important flood-related information. More than 35 tweets were sent out during the first 72 hours. Shell also partnered with disaster relief organizations including the Canadian Red Cross and set up a separate webpage for employees to donate to the organization.

Cenovus Energy: Cenovus was equally as busy on Facebook as they were on Twitter posting numerous times about the status of their office and the situation around the city. Social media is a two-way dialogue and Cenvous was not only posting information but answering questions and engaging with its followers. Through Facebook and Twitter, Cenovus also organized volunteer opportunities for employees to donate their time while the office was closed. Even after the crisis period, Cenovus continued to post various needs throughout the city including donations to the food bank and clothing for the Women’s Emergency Shelter.

Suncor Energy: Suncor followed the trend of informing employees through its social media accounts with important updates and information. An added touch was a letter from the President and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Williams, which was posted on Facebook updating employees on Suncor’s efforts to restore the company to a sense of normalcy. What was really unique is that employees who were personally affected by the flooding were encouraged to post their needs to the company Facebook page to allow their colleagues the opportunity to provide assistance.

– Randie Anderson, Communica