Does Microsoft’s endorsement of employee blogging make it a better place to work?

So now you know my opinions on what blogging says about you as a candidate to potential employers (if you happen to link that blog on your resume). But what does an employers willingness or even encouragement of employee blogging mean about the work environment?

I know there have been a ton of other posts about the perception of a company's openness and talking directly to one's customer(s) from a marketing standpoint. But what I am talking about here is what it says to our customer when that person is actually a candidate. What might a potential hire think about a company when they see all the blogging taking place? What does a blogging culture imply about your employment brand? Here's my take:

-Companies don't want unhappy employees to be visible. I've mentioned this before. Having “real” people on your website suggests that those folks are happy in their roles. So happy, in fact, that the company is not worried about a recruiter finding their name and trying to recruit them away. It's similar with blogging. A company that encourages visibility of it's employees to the rest of the world feels that it has a very strong relationship with those employees. Unhappy people may blog elsewhere, but generally not when it'd connected to your company in some way. By the way, that does not mean that I won't try and recruit bloggers away from other companies ; )

-Companies that encourage blogging are not afraid to take risks. One thing that I learned early on at Microsoft is that the stigma attached to failure here is a little different. Failure promotes learning. And you don't get the luxury of failing if you don't try something new. Many companies are still trying to understand blogging and what it can mean for their business. For us (here in recruiting), instead of meeting about it and analyzing to death, we thought we would just try it. If we get our collective hand slapped, so be it. Makes for a lot more fun at work and we are gaining key take-aways that we can use in other aspects of our business.

-Companies that encourage blogging have respect for the individual.What I am talking about is a person blogging as an employee (versus as a candidate with a personal blog linked to their resume). Microsoft doesn't want you to hide your personality when you come to work. And we don't need some PR treatment of our blog space in order to control how readers think of people that work here. Generally, I think we are a likable bunch (and there is absolutely a blogging “community” here).

-Companies that encourage blogging think their employees are smart. Of course, I don't have to mention that I take some pride in this point because I recruit here. Companies wouldn't want someone that doesn't know their stuff blogging on their server. And blogging at Microsoft is open to anyone. Kind of suggests that the higher up folks here have a lot of faith in the intelligence of their people.

What else does a blogging culture say to prospective applicants about the company? Do you think it makes people assume we have extra time on our hands? Is their a downside to widespread corporate blogging from a candidate's point of view?

Comments (6)

  1. And then there are the companies who generally don’t know about blogging, and no discussion happens around it. To me, those are the most difficult to work for (from experience, my last 2 have been this way).

    Sometimes clear lines, or clear direction make things easier 😉

  2. It says that we’re interested in working with the industry, partners, customers, in an open way to make things better and that we’ll be transparent about our faults and what we can do.

    It says that the company trusts employees to do the right thing.

    It says that we’re interested in sharing our ideas and our software with the world.

    Great post!

  3. well at my company the blogging is not something really big but they do want employees to be communicated so we have our own internal IRC server setup so that kicks ass, no IT moderating servers or HR people lurking, so it’s pretty cool… we’ll se about the blogging later…

  4. Jim Arnold says:

    All noble ideas, but potential employees might be wary of situations like this:

  5. Heather says:

    Jim-that person was not actually a full-time employee but you make a good point. Companies need to make bloggers feel safe. In return, bloggers need to exercise good judgement in what they post. I believe that any one of the Microsoft bloggers could post some information that they know that could get them in trouble (confidential info related to products or in my case, confidential HR info).

    I think companies are getting more presecriptive by creating some guidelines for bloggers so they know what is safe territory (although the basis of any guidelines will be "good judgement" which is subjective anyway).

    Like I said, allowing people to blog is a risk for companies.

  6. Heather @ Microsoft has an interesting take that I’ve not yet seen – The "mentality" of a company that’s OK with it’s employees’ weblogs and websites, and their quasi-direct affiliation with their employer. Heather’s take on Microsoft, which I extrapolate to mean "blog friendly companies in general," is as follows: -Companies don’t want unhappy employees to be visible. -Companies that encourage blogging are not afraid to take risks. -Companies that encourage blogging have respect for the individual. (This is BIG!) -Companies that encourage blogging think their employees are smart. -[me] The company is not afraid of its employees, or what…

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