Crucial for success
Further research conducted by Griffith University found enterprise social networks can help facilitate employee engagement and performance if some key attributes were present within the organisation, including:
- Leadership engagement and use of the platform;
- a flat hierarchy;
- trust within the organisation;
- an open organisational culture; and
- clear guidelines for use.
The literature review, led by Professor Nick Barter and Dr Elliroma Gardiner, included a review of thousands of papers and a detailed review of more than 200 peer reviewed journal articles. The research found work-related social media enhances employee performance
- Increasing communication within the organisation;
- facilitating information and knowledge sharing;
- increasing the accessibility and availability of resources (to facilitate task performance);
- increasing opportunities for collaboration;
- increasing sense of connection and belonging among employees; and
- increasing self-efficacy.
“We found enterprise social networks promote employee engagement and enhance performance, but only if leaders are supportive,” says Dr Gardiner. “If leaders aren’t engaged, then there isn’t a very strong effect.”
While more research into the impact of enterprise social networks on employee engagement is needed, the study found no apparent negative effect from using online social networks at work.
“What this means is there’s not going to be any detrimental impact on the organisation by using ESNs,” she says.
A practical example
Pete Johns, Digital Employee Experience Manager at The NRMA, conducted an experiment with employees within their Group Customer division.
The hypothesis he tested was “could Yammer help employees to solve customer and colleague problems faster and enable them to share information more effectively? Could more intentional use of Yammer drive tangible business benefits as well as improve employee engagement?”
To do this, Johns established three Yammer groups and worked with leaders to define a clear purpose for each of the groups. He established clear guidelines and trained key people to act as community facilitators to ensure employees were getting the most out of the activity.
A survey conducted among staff before and again three-months after the groups were established saw an 8 per cent increase in overall employee engagement and significant increases in four key areas of business value: how well the team felt they were connecting, sharing, solving and innovating.
All of this delivered a 10 per cent improvement to the Digital Employee Experience, so the experiment proved a resounding success.