Datuk Michael Tio of PKT Logistics has made social media a compulsory communication tool at the company and has seen benefits from the move, reports JOY LEE.

While most companies try to prevent their employees from using social media at work, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd has taken on a different approach – CEO Datuk Michael Tio has made Facebook a compulsory form of communication in the company.

Every employee is required to have a Facebook account.

Project discussions happen over Facebook, information and documents are disbursed through Facebook, reports are sent through Facebook and meeting room bookings are made through Facebook. Even recruitment happens over the social media platform.

Tio no longer uses email.

“It is fast and fun. My employees like it. They don’t have to come and see me anymore. If at any time, they need me in a discussion, they just tag me,” he laughs.

Being a Facebook-enabled company allows Tio to communicate directly with all his employees as it takes down communication barriers that usually come with organisational hierarchy. Plus, it keeps him updated on what’s going on in the company, he says.

Tio says the decision to use Facebook as a communication tool came about to keep the logistics company relevant to younger talent.

“You can’t ban Facebook. They can still access it on their smartphones and gadgets. So rather than go against them, you might as well join them.

“It is all about connectivity and increasing the speed of communication. Gen-Y wants fast day-to-day communication and they look for information from different social media sites. If we ban Facebook, we are holding them back,” Tio explains.

But Tio’s staff weren’t always enthusiastic about communicating via social media.

When PKT first implemented its “Facebook-compulsory” policy in 2012, it started with a lot of rules and regulations and some resistance.

At that time, Tio noted that more than 14 million Malaysians were on the internet and 85% of them were on Facebook. With so many people on the platform, Tio saw it as an opportunity for effective communication.

“I wanted to be in the frontline. It was a risk. But I decided to make Facebook compulsory in the company. There are benefits there that we can make use of,” he says.

But the effort took awhile to bear fruit.

Tio recalls many instances in the beginning where his employees used Facebook to criticise fellow workers and caused friction at work. So the company came to an agreement to have a separate Facebook account for work from their personal one.

Only positive affirmation was allowed on employees’ work Facebook account, says Tio.

When PKT employees took to using Facebook, the trick, says Tio, was how to allow access to social media tools without compromising on work ethics and quality.

“We had to do a lot of training and guide them to not abuse it. But at the same time, we want to trust our staff to decide for themselves how they balance work and leisure when using Facebook,” he says.

Using social media has worked well for PKT. With Facebook, Tio explains that employees are much more involved with the happenings and growth of the company, reports are no longer boring, wordy documents but can be in the form of visuals and videos, and the company does not need to invest in storage space as documents are hosted on Facebook.

“Facebook works for us because we made it work. It can be effective. With Facebook, everyone in PKT is well-informed about what is going on in the company and we get to access a lot of discussions with a click of the mouse. To be progressive, we need to improve the speed of communication.

“And today, the speed of success moves fast so we have to make use of technology to our advantage to move fast and remain successful,” says Tio.