A majority of companies worldwide say they are becoming more
knowledgeable about the use of social media tools to connect with and
keep their workforces informed. In fact, more than two-thirds of
companies surveyed by global professional services company Towers Watson
(NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) plan to increase their use of social media tools over
the next 12 months though many question their cost effectiveness. The
biannual study also found that companies with the best communication
programs enhance the communication skills of their leaders and managers,
and continuously evaluate performance.
"The way companies handle employee communication is fundamentally
changing, largely due to increased expectations, diversity and
globalization, as well as the growth of social media and networking,"
said Kathryn Yates, global leader of communication consulting at Towers
Watson. "Change and communication professionals can no longer do things
the way they've always been done. There is a greater need than ever to
deliver information to employees in a manner that creates a sense of
community and motivates change."
The 2011 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Study found that
roughly two-thirds (64%) of respondents are more knowledgeable about
using social media tools than they were a year ago, and 69% plan to
increase their use over the next 12 months. However, only 28% report
these tools are cost effective at their organization, and just 15% have
measurement tools in place. The respondents that find social media tools
cost effective are investing in social networks (63%) and leadership
journals or blogs (58%).
"Companies are staring at a clear opportunity to use new media to
increase engagement with employees," said Yates. "Social media and
networking clearly open an opportunity for dialogue, rapidly integrate
employees into the company culture and create a sense of community.
Companies that are reluctant to try social media may end up limiting
their ability to attract, retain and motivate certain key groups of
The 2011 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Study includes
responses from 604 organizations from around the world. The research
identified the best communication and change management practices at
top-performing companies. These findings include the following:
Measure and evaluate effectiveness
More than half (56%) of companies that are highly effective
communicators measure the communication function's contribution to
meeting strategic business goals, and 62% use their measurement findings
to plan future initiatives or make business decisions. That compares
with less than one in four low-performing companies taking these
Across all participants, only 37% are measuring progress against their
change goals. The high-effectiveness change management organizations are
six times as likely as low-effectiveness companies to be taking this
"Frequent evaluation and measurement not only help ensure that an
organization's communication initiatives are both accessible and
effective, they also provide the clarity required to build employee
confidence in the direction that the company is heading," said Yates.
Promote the employee value proposition
More than one-third of highly effective companies have managers who are
effective at promoting the employee value proposition (EVP), compared to
relatively few (4%) of the low-effectiveness companies. The EVP, or
"employment deal," lets employees know what the company expects from
them and what they can expect from the company. The survey notes that
even among highly effective firms, there is room for improvement in this
"Clearly articulating the EVP to employees before they join and while
they are employed is another hallmark of effective communication
programs. Companies with managers who do this effectively will find
themselves in a much stronger position to attract, retain and integrate
top-performing employees," said Yates.
The study confirms that effective communication is an important
element of change management, and if both are done well, there is a
stronger relationship with financial performance. Companies highly
effective at both communication and change management are 2.5 times as
likely to outperform their peers as companies that are not highly
effective in either area.
When compared with companies with low change management and
communication effectiveness, firms that are highly effective at change
management are nearly five times as likely to create an integrated
communication and change management strategy -- and more than eight
times as likely to continue to exhibit new behaviors and use new
skills after changes are made.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents report that managers are taking on
more responsibility when it comes to communication with employees, but
only 28% are evaluating managers on their communication effectiveness.
While the majority of firms are training managers on communication and
change management skills, relatively few find it effective.
About Towers Watson
Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional
services company that helps organizations improve performance through
effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers
solutions in the areas of employee benefits, talent management, rewards,
and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates
around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.
Ed Emerman, +1 609-275-5162
Savani, +1 703-258-7648