They're just not that into you: Can social media revitalize employee communication?

Publication Date: 2009, Spring

Source: SO02 Public Relations Strategist
Product Code: 6K-020920
Organization/Author/Firm: Alison Davis,   Davis & Company
Specialization(s): Internal Communications / Social Media
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In an informal survey that my firm conducted in February, 58 out of 77 communicators (75 percent) reported that their workload has intensified since last year, mostly because the volume of communication has increased.

But look beyond this burst of activity, and you'll see that more communication doesn't lead to better engagement. In fact, at most companies, employees are receiving more communication, but they're using it less.

Furthermore, employees are feeling increasingly overloaded with information, which negatively affects their satisfaction with communication. Although employees report feeling informed about key business issues, they're not sure how these issues relate to the work that they do every day.

This leads to employees who feel disconnected from their organizations. There's growing evidence that employees are tuning out.

Communication, in its current form, is not working for employees.

Employees don't want to reject communication—they just resent how it is now prepared. Employees want information, but only if it's fresh, candid and personally relevant. They want to learn about the company, but they want that information presented in context, relating to what's going on in the world, to what customers tell them and to the work they do every day. Most of all, employees want to control their communication experience by asking questions, adding comments, learning other employees' perspectives and even creating their own news.

If those desires sound familiar, it's because we've been talking about a new way of communicating for the past several years—social media—that gives employees what they want.