Latest Research: Highlights from the Research Foundation/Buck Consultants Employee Engagement Survey

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Electronic communication methods are the No. 1 choice for employee communication, according to the 2010 IABC Research Foundation and Buck Consultants Employee Engagement survey. E-mail (83 percent) and intranet (75 percent) were reported to be the most frequently used communication vehicles for engaging employees.

The survey also reveals that social media tools have been gaining popularity; roughly 45 percent of respondents indicated that they currently communicate through Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging. Blogs were the most-used social media tool in last year’s survey results, but have now dropped in usage by nearly half, down to 38 percent. Another change from last year is that a higher percentage of respondents say their companies have established external and internal social media policies.

So are print newsletters dead? Not necessarily. Print newsletters or newspapers came in fifth, after face-to-face meetings and web sites, as communication methods used to engage employees and foster productivity. Although 41 percent of survey respondents said they rarely or never use print newsletters or newspapers for this type of communication, nearly one-third (31 percent) reported frequent use of these once-so-popular communication methods. Furthermore, it is probable that e-mail, intranets and web sites are now used to deliver newsletters in electronic format. Nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike are strapped in this economy, so eliminating the publishing and mailing costs of print newsletters can help the bottom line.

When it comes to employee engagement, retaining top talent and increasing productivity are the two top goals listed for creating and sustaining a culture of engagement. Surveys are a key method for measuring employee engagement and workplace satisfaction according to a majority of respondents (60 percent). Other practices used to sustain an engaging work culture included publishing a formal list of organizational values (74 percent) and exit interviews (73 percent). However, 32 percent of respondents stated that they rarely or never conduct employee listening activities.

Nearly half (47 percent) said that senior leaders partner with internal communicators more frequently now than 12 months ago—a number similar to last year’s results. This suggests a possible increase in such partnerships from the baseline of two years ago. Again this year a significant number of respondent organizations (42 percent) indicated they are "communicating more" as an engagement strategy after the global economic downturn (38 percent said so last year).

To no one’s surprise, budget and staff cuts have occurred. While 36 percent report their budgets remained the same over the past 12 months, 42 percent have experienced decreases, some significant. In terms of staffing, 41 percent have stayed the same over the same time period while 33 percent have decreased.

There were nearly 900 respondents to the second Research Foundation/Buck Consultants survey, with 71 percent of respondents at a director or manager level or above. The complete study is available to all IABC members at no charge.

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