IABC/Buck survey offers employee engagement insights

In June, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Buck Consultants published the 2010 IABC Employee Engagement Survey, the results of research on employee engagement strategies, the second year the two organizations have worked together on such research.

Let me begin with a chart from the 21-page survey report: a contemporary picture of social media tools either in use, planned for use, or not being used as answered by the nearly 900 people who participated in the survey.


The only real surprise to me from these metrics is actually how low current use is of internal-use tools like Yammer and how high the percentage is of survey respondents who either aren’t using it or don’t plan to at all. Yammer is a Twitter-like tool used for private communication within organizations.

What this suggests to me is that there is still a huge requirement in many organizations for education and awareness-raising of social media tools and channels to help people at all levels better understand the business value of social media from their perspectives and why it’s important that employees are empowered to engage with others, internally and externally.

I hadn’t heard about this survey until I interviewed Robin McCasland, the 2009-2010 Chair of the IABC Research Foundation, for the latest episode of the IABC Cafe2Go podcast, published yesterday. The survey report was a major publication of the Research Foundation this year. In the interview, Robin highlights many of the overall findings from the survey results, such as:

  • Email (83%) and intranet (75%) are reported as the most frequently used communication vehicles for engaging employees.
  • Social media tools have been gaining popularity with roughly 45% of respondents who said that they currently communicate through Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging (see the chart above).
  • Compared with last year’s results, a higher percentage of participants have established external and internal social media policies.
  • A majority of respondents (60%) reported that surveys are a key method for measuring employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents stated they conduct employee listening activities at least once a year (which means that about a third don’t or do it rarely).

It’s good to note an increase in the number of organizations which have put in place policies and guidelines for employees to understand what the rules are with social media.

What caught my attention most, though, was a metric reflecting a picture that’s still too common in too many organizations – the lack of any activity used to measure the effectiveness of social media communication internally or externally.


As this chart shows, over half (52%) of those surveyed said they use no method to measure the effectiveness of internal social media use.

That makes little sense to me. Why would you not measure whether what you’re doing is helping you achieve the objectives you established at the outset?

There’s lots more to glean from this survey, a credible document that provides real insights into the communication landscape in organizations that includes other metrics on topics such as communication investment and employee retention, creating and sustaining a culture of engagement, management development programmes, and  internal/employer branding.

You can download the report, free, from the IABC Research Foundation website as well as from Buck Consultants.

And do listen to the interview with Robin McCasland – you’ll gain additional insights to complement the report.

(Disclosure: I’ve been an IABC member for more than 20 years and believe it to be the best professional association for business communicators. I also occasionally produce the Cafe2Go podcasts for IABC as an aspect of my volunteerism. None of that influenced my writing this post, though.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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