Curtis Callaway is the first person to have his job title at Shaw Industries.
The role was created to help the company focus internally and communicate more proactively to their associates. Curtis says he stepped up to the job because of the potential creative freedoms a new role might have. “I saw it as an opportunity to bring in new ideas and benchmark other companies and their communication functions,” he says.
As the Director of Associate Communications and Community Relations, SocialMedia.org member Curtis explains his job is just a piece of the organization's overall social media presence. But with 23,000 associates, it's an important one that comes with its own set of unique challenges.
An associate at Shaw Industries can be anyone from a member of the sales force to the person driving a lift truck.
Social media can sometimes blur the line between personal and work time.
Curtis says that while half of their associates are in admin roles (running customer service, accounting, sourcing, and sales), the other half are in manufacturing (operating machinery, driving trucks, and doing quality control). And that can make communicating with those two different audiences difficult.
“This year our company is giving plant associates access to company email for the first time ever. While that's exciting to me, as a communicator, it still presents challenges,” says Curtis.
For example, with a global manufacturing workforce, some emails will need to be translated. It also raises questions like are associates expected to act on an email when some don't have the ability to check email during the day?
Plus, he says, social media is just becoming a bigger part of everyone's lives.
“Social media can sometimes blur the line between personal and work time. That's not to say the company is intruding on personal space, but we're mobile and in touch with what's going on with our jobs so easily and quickly now,” he explains. “My own personal space is shared with my co-workers, things I'm interested in professionally, as well as the things I'm interested in when I'm not on the clock.”
But in some ways, Curtis is still fighting the perception that social media at work is blocked.
I feel like employee advocacy is the future.
He says that even though it's been several years since associates have had open access, not everyone has gotten the message. One way that he's trying to fight that perception is through employee advocacy.
So far, he's reached out to associates in marketing, communications, and sales to launch “The Shaw Scene.” Using a mobile app, he pushes out content created by their residential brand and marketing team modified for the associate voice. Employee ambassadors are also encouraged to share content around corporate efforts like Shaw Industries' support of UnitedWay.
“We make flooring — it's something everybody needs and everybody uses, but it's not something everybody thinks about.”
Brand awareness is another big goal for Shaw Industries' employee advocacy initiative. He says that social networks allow Shaw Industries' employees to put themselves out there as experts in flooring so that when people are ready to buy, they would know who to ask.
“I feel like employee advocacy is the future — having associates who are empowered, engaged, and excited to talk about our products and our workplace is a great win for us. It impacts the bottom line, helps recruit talent, and helps people know we're a great corporate citizen in the community that's giving back all the time.”
Follow Curtis on Twitter and ask about his favorite place to take a run. Curtis has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014.