Haddud, Abubaker, Dugger, John, & Gill, Preet (2016). Exploring the impact of internal social media usage on employee engagement. Journal of Social Media for Organizations, 3(1), 1 – 23.
The emergence of internal social media platforms/applications is creating opportunities for organizations to promote collaboration between employees and to improve employee engagement. Internal social media applications provide employees with an easy way to communicate and share personal and professional information with other co-workers. A number of research initiatives have explored the technical side of internal social media but little research has been conducted to explore its potential in enhancing organizational performance through a more empowered workforce. This paper explored the relationship between internal social media usage and employee engagement within the North American operations of a multinational organization. The relationship between the level and purpose of internal social media usage and company-wide self-reported competencies was also explored. Tasks being addressed by internal social media were also identified.
To understand the relationship between Bosch Connect (an internal social media platform) usage and employee engagement, a descriptive research methodology approach was adopted. In addition to a small number of demographic variables, respondent perceptions were gathered regarding the frequency of use of internal social media, the level of employee engagement, and the level of self-reported competence regarding each of the company-wide competencies. An online survey was developed, reviewed, piloted, revised, and sent to 5488 employees working within five main divisions in Robert Bosch North America. Total responses were 1802, with 1694 being usable entries. A thirteen-question (44 individual responses required) survey was used to gather data and was administered electronically using the SurveyMonkey.com website. All questions were close-ended: either multiple-choice, yes/no, or five-point Likert-type scale; the square brackets used below identify comments that were not a part of the survey. The study took place in 2015-2016 as a collaborative research endeavor between Eastern Michigan University and Robert Bosch North America Company.
- The greater the self-reported usage of internal social media, the greater the levels of self-reported employee engagement.
- The results provide preliminary evidence that internal social media usage is associated with the level of employee engagement.
- Internal social media usage is associated with the level of self-reported competencies of entrepreneurship, communication, and readiness for change.
- Finally, the study revealed variations in both internal social media usage and employee engagement by business division and career bands.
Implications for Practice
Based on the findings, companies designing or modifying an internal social media platform should consider introducing training programs to ensure that the capabilities and operational procedures are known by all. Once the program is implemented, media usage could be tracked by unit to determine how often and for how long a particular app is used by each employee. Companies with fully implemented internal social media platforms could formally integrate the platform into their efforts to promote innovation in both products and processes. Given the association observed in this study between usage and engagement and competencies, it may be helpful for companies to track internal social media usage, employee engagement, and perceived competencies regularly.
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