Social Media an Increasingly Important Tool in Keeping Employees Engaged During Tough Economic Times, Survey Finds
June 6, 2009 — In its "Employee Engagement Survey,” the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation teamed with Buck Consultants, an ACS company, to determine how organizations are communicating with employees to keep them engaged and productive. The survey includes responses from nearly 1,500 participants representing a broad industry and geographic base. The survey results are being released today at the annual IABC World Conference in San Francisco.
"Communicating for optimal employee engagement is always a timely topic, but even more so during challenging economic times,” said Robin McCasland, a director in Buck Consultants’ communication practice and 2009–2010 chair of IABC Research Foundation. "Our results represent opportunities for communicators to have greater influence in delivering messages that encourage employees to remain productive, and to understand how their work contributes toward achieving business priorities.”
Almost four-fifths (79 percent) of the respondents report that they use social media frequently to engage employees and foster productivity, outranking even email (75 percent). Company blogs are the most popular social media tool currently in use (47 percent), with discussion boards ranking the highest for future planned use (33 percent).
"It’s encouraging to see the rising popularity of social media in employee communication,” said Julie Freeman, ABC, APR, president of IABC. "Companies are moving away from the one-way communication model where they would send out information hoping people would read it. Using the various social media tools, companies can now engage employees in discussions and foster conversations between teams across geographic and other boundaries.”
Current use of social networking sites such as Twitter (21 percent), Yammer (20 percent), and Facebook (18 percent) is significant, but organizations are planning to use those tools even more in the future.
Other key survey findings include:
* More than half of the respondents (52 percent) report their communication budgets have decreased and 35 percent report their communication staff has been reduced over the past 12 months
* The most common reasons cited for communication budget and staff cuts are: the economic downturn (46 percent) and organizational mandates (42 percent)
* Forty-eight percent report their employee communication strategy has stayed the same despite the economic downturn
* The frequency of ongoing employee listening reflected an "all or nothing” approach, with 62 percent of respondents who regularly engage in employee listening activities such as surveys and focus groups, and 30 percent who rarely or never engage in these methods
* Fifty-six percent of top executives are not using social media at this time, and nearly half (46 percent) of organizations are not measuring social media’s effectiveness
* Almost six in 10 respondents (59 percent) think their company has a well-established internal or employer brand
Buck Consultants, an ACS company, is a leader in human resource and benefits consulting with more than 1,500 professionals worldwide. Founded in 1916 to advise clients in establishing and funding some of the nation’s first public and private retirement programs, Buck is an innovator in the areas of retirement benefits, health and welfare programs, human capital management, compensation, and employee communication. News and other information about Buck Consultants are available at www.buckconsultants.com. Buck is an independent subsidiary of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.
ACS, a global FORTUNE 500 company with approximately 74,000 people supporting client operations reaching more than 100 countries, provides business process outsourcing and information technology solutions to world-class commercial and government clients. The company's Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ACS." Learn more about ACS at www.acs-inc.com.
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves more than 16,000 members in 80 countries and 100 chapters. For more information, visit www.iabc.com.
Founded in 1982, IABC Research Foundation serves as the research and development arm of the International Association of Business Communicators. The Foundation supports and advances the practice of organizational communication by providing IABC members with research that bridges the divide between communication theory and practice by offering in-depth knowledge and tools that improve organizational communication performance and strengthen the communication profession as a whole. For more information, visit www.iabc.com/rf.
The 2009 "Employee Engagement Survey” report is available to the media by contacting Ed Gadowski at 201-902-2825. It is available to other interested parties at no cost from Buck’s Global Survey Resources, 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ, 07096-1533. Telephone 1-800-887-0509. It is also available online at www.bucksurveys.com or www.iabc.com/rf.