The value of enabling social media for employees, both inside and outside the firewall, keeps getting reinforced by study after study, yet organizations continue to block access to external sources while resisting internal implementation citing excuses ranging from bandwidth and storage limitations to fears of diminished worker productivity.
Aberdeen Group has produced another study the naysayers can ignore. Focused on talent management and employee engagement, the research brief links the use of Web 2.0 to higher levels of engagement and better company performance.
The linkage doesn't prove that Web 2.0 was directly responsible for producing these results, however. The fact that "best-in-class" organizations are more likely to use blogs, wikis, and social networking tools than other companies could just mean that best-in-class organizations are generally more inclined to trust employees and adopt new tools they can use to collaborate and share knowledge and information.
Still, companies looking to boost engagement and improve recruiting and retention can certainly learn a lesson by studying the behaviors of those organizations that are outperforming them. According to Aberdeen's brief, titled Web 2.0, Talent Management, and Employee Engagement (a PDF file):
- 52% of organizations that adopt blogs, wikis, and social networking tools (among others) achieved best-in-class performance levels compared to 5% for those that didn't. (Note to Aberdeen: I would have liked a definition of "best-in-class.")
- The same tools were used within organizations that achieved an 18% year-over-year improvement in employee engagement. Companies that didn't use these tools grew engagement by a mere 1%.
Other highlights from the reportâ€"which aggregate findings from several Aberdeen studiesâ€"focus on...
Recruitingâ€"A 45% increase in spending on "software that links to networking site (e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn) or other communities of practice" as part of the recruiting process will increase internal recruiters' ability to connect with potential recruits. These tools also let employees post messages to "lend a voice to the market on the work culture at a particular company."
Onboardingâ€"Social networking is being used to connect newly-hired employees with mentors and coaches as well as build relationships with other employees. "In addition," the brief notes, "blogs and wikis are also used as a means for a new employee to provide content/commentary on a topic at which he/she is an expert where others within the organization are struggling."
Learning and developmentâ€"About a third of organizations surveyed for an upcoming study from Aberdeen said the biggest growth in learning and development over the next year will come from "informal learning." The investment these companies will make in blogs, social networks, and communities will "stimulate peer-to-peer learning and ideation, as well as facilitate communities of practice in which organizatoins can leverage the collective knowledge of their employees."
With the introduction of Yammer, Present.ly, and other internal-facing presence tools, it's too bad the Aberdeen report was focused exclusively on the first wave of social media tools. But the mere fact that Aberdeen joins companies like McKinsey, Gartner, and Forrester in endorsing these tools as drivers of business improvement can only help those trying to make the case for internal social media with those inclined to resist it.
a shel of my former self, a blog from organizational communications consultant Shel Holtz, addresses the intersection of technology, business, and communication.