Firms Embracing Social Media for Employee Communications

November 17, 2011 ( - A majority of companies worldwide say they are becoming more knowledgeable about the use of social media tools to connect with and keep their workforces informed.

More than two-thirds of companies surveyed by Towers Watson plan to increase their use of social media tools over the next 12 months, though many question their cost effectiveness.  

The 2011 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Study found roughly two-thirds (64%) of respondents are more knowledgeable about using social media tools than they were a year ago, and 69% plan to increase their use over the next 12 months. However, only 28% report these tools are cost effective at their organization, and just 15% have measurement tools in place. The respondents that find social media tools cost effective are investing in social networks (63%) and leadership journals or blogs (58%).  

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

Across all participants, only 37% 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. 

More than one-third of highly effective companies have managers who are effective at promoting the employee value proposition (EVP), compared to relatively few (4%) of the low-effectiveness companies. The EVP, or “employment deal,” lets employees know what the company expects from them and what they can expect from the company. The survey notes that even among highly effective firms, there is room for improvement in this area.  

The study confirms that effective communication is an important element of change management, and if both are done well, there is a stronger relationship with financial performance. Companies highly effective at both communication and change management are 2.5 times as likely to outperform their peers as companies that are not highly effective in either area.  

When compared with companies with low change management and communication effectiveness, firms that are highly effective at change management are nearly five times as likely to create an integrated communication and change management strategy and more than eight times as likely to continue to exhibit new behaviors and use new skills after changes are made.  

Nearly two-thirds of respondents report managers are taking on more responsibility when it comes to communication with employees, but only 28% are evaluating managers on their communication effectiveness. While the majority of firms are training managers on communication and change management skills, relatively few find it effective.