Departments - September/October 2009

The Insider

Evaluating the Communications Component
Are You Missing Opportunities?

By Catherine Eberlein Pfister


W

e know that clear and consistent communication is critical to any organization—and particularly important to any employee engagement program. But in light of reduced communication budgets and resources, what communication tools can help keep employees productive and engaged?

To find out what companies are doing, we took a closer look at the results of a recently released "Employee Engagement Survey" fielded by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation and Buck Consultants.

It's not surprising that companies are turning to social media to connect with employees. It is, after all, trendy, immediate and the rising star of 24x7 communication. This study shows that 79 percent of responders use social media frequently to engage employees and foster productivity, outranking even e-mail (75 percent). Company blogs are the most popular social media tool currently in use (47 percent). Discussion boards rank the highest for future planned use (33 percent).

When it comes to social networking sites, study results show significant use of Twitter (21 percent), Yammer (20 percent) and Facebook (18 percent). And organizations say they are planning to use those tools even more in the future.

"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."