Email and an organization's intranet are the most important communication tools for organizations to engage employees and foster productivity, but a growing number of employers now use social media to distribute company news to their employees, according to a study from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation and Buck Consultants (an independent subsidiary of Xerox).

Organizations now rely on a wide range of tools to communicate with their employees, but most surveyed business communicators cite email (83%) and their intranets (75%) as the ones used most frequently.

One-third (33%) of business communicators say they use social media occasionally to communicate with their employees, and 12% use it frequently.

Below, other findings from the second annual Employee Engagement Survey of nearly 900 communications professionals.

Social Media

Facebook is the most popular social media tool: 45% of business communicators say they use it now and 17% plan to use it in the future. Twitter is second: 44% now use it and 18% say they plan to in the future.

Fewer organizations (38%) use blogs to communicate with their employees, but 29% plan to do so in the future.

Social media use is low among top execs. Among business communicators in a leadership or management role, 62% say they do not participate in external social media and 60% do not participate in internal social media.

Relatively few companies have formal social media policies: 32% of business communicators say their companies have policies in place to address employee use of internal social media and 41% have such policies in place for external social media—but those levels are higher than those reported a year earlier, according to Buck Consultants.

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Fully one-half (52%) of business communicators say they do not measure the effectiveness of internal and external social media. Among those who do track social media effectiveness, 35% measure usage levels and statistics and 22% monitor social media content.

Other findings:

  • Though increasing productivity (66%) and retaining top talent (65%) are the most important goals cited to keep employees engaged, just 32% of communications and business professionals say their companies rarely or never conduct employee-listening activities.
  • Publishing a formal list of values (74%) and using exit interviews with managers (73%) are the top practices cited to sustain an engaging work culture. Other practices are regularly surveying the workforce on engagement (60%) and work satisfaction (60%).
  • Formal or informal employee feedback (77%) is the top way that organizations measure the effectiveness of their employee engagement strategies. Other methods are meeting annual company performance goals (48%) and measuring employee retention rates (42%).

About the data: Findings are from a survey of nearly 900 communications, marketing, and business professionals working in a broad range of industries, located predominantly in North America (82.7%), the Pacific Rim (5.4%) Western Europe (5.0%), and the Middle East/Africa (2.6%). The study was conducted by the IABC Research Foundation and Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company. 

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