Two-thirds of firms worldwide increasing use of new media for employee communication

Social networks, leadership journals, blogs most popular: Towers Watson
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/17/2011

A majority of companies worldwide are becoming more knowledgeable about the use of social media tools to connect with and keep their workforces informed. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of companies plan to increase their use of social media tools over the next 12 months though many question their cost effectiveness, found a survey by Towers Watson.

“The way companies handle employee communication is fundamentally changing, largely due to increased expectations, diversity and globalization, as well as the growth of social media and networking,” said Kathryn Yates, global leader of communication consulting at Towers Watson. “Change and communication professionals can no longer do things the way they’ve always been done. There is a greater need than ever to deliver information to employees in a manner that creates a sense of community and motivates change.”

The 2011 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Study found that roughly two-thirds (64 per cent) of the 604 respondents are more knowledgeable about using social media tools than they were one year ago. However, only 28 per cent report these tools are cost effective at their organization and just 15 per cent have measurement tools in place.

The respondents that find social media tools cost effective are investing in social networks (63 per cent) and leadership journals or blogs (58 per cent).

“Companies are staring at a clear opportunity to use new media to increase engagement with employees,” said Yates. “Social media and networking clearly open an opportunity for dialogue, rapidly integrate employees into the company culture and create a sense of community. Companies that are reluctant to try social media may end up limiting their ability to attract, retain and motivate certain key groups of employees.”

More than one-half (56 per cent) of companies that are highly effective communicators measure the communication function’s contribution to meeting strategic business goals, and 62 per cent use their measurement findings to plan future initiatives or make business decisions, found the survey. That compares with less than one in four low-performing companies taking these initiatives.

Across all participants, only 37 per cent are measuring progress against their change goals. The high-effectiveness change management organizations are six times as likely as low-effectiveness companies to be taking this important step, according to the survey.

“Frequent evaluation and measurement not only help ensure that an organization’s communication initiatives are both accessible and effective, they also provide the clarity required to build employee confidence in the direction that the company is heading,” said Yates.

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