Businesses Will Use More Social Media Next Year to Communicate With Workers, Study Says

Data shows economic downturn prompts need for new communication methods. Lack of IT support or inadequate resources cited by non-adopters.

December 8, 2009

D.H. Kass

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Businesses expect to make greater use of social media to communicate with employees in the next year, driven by economic conditions to innovate away from more traditional methods of communication, according to a new study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

A global survey of 328 companies by the Washington, D.C.-based researcher revealed that nearly two-thirds planned to increase their use of social media in 2010 as a way to connect with workers.

Approximately 80 percent of the study’s participants said they have increased their use of electronic communication in the past two years, and, correspondingly, about 50 percent have decreased the amount of print communication used.

Of those companies in the study not implementing social media to communicate with workers, more than one third complained about a lack of IT support or insufficient technical capabilities. About 40 percent said they had limited knowledge of social media and 45 percent pointed to a lack of staff or resources.

Watson Wyatt pointed to the economic downturn as a factor driving the increased use of non-traditional channels of communication.

“While traditional communication channels are still preferred in some instances, the downturn has put a premium on effective, innovative communication,” said John Finney, Watson Wyatt senior communication consultant.

“It is important for companies to take full advantage of these new, exciting forms of communication by developing strategies before making any sudden leaps and then continually measuring the programs’ effectiveness,” he said.

Watson Wyatt said that companies will continue to examine social media as the new wave of corporate communication.

“Today’s workers are looking for authentic, timely messages that address how business changes affect them personally,” said Kathryn Yates, Watson Wyatt global leader of communication consulting.

“Social media engages employees in real time and on a variety of topics.”

TAGS: business communication,social media,communications,IT support

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