HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Q&A: More Data on Employee Engagement in Official Communication

In part 1 of this article we began to look at the study Q4 2018 State of Frontline Employee Communications Trend Report, which explores in detail how, when, and to what degree employees interact with messages coming from their organization.

Source: Sailor Johnny / shutterstock

Today, we’ll continue our chat with Patrick Van Der Mijl, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, about the report.

HR Daily Advisor: What are the key takeaways of your platform usage data for frontline employees?

In our own recent research, we found that 53% of global frontline workers use messaging apps up to six times a day, while 16% said their HR departments weren’t aware of such usage. These findings are disturbing on several levels, but they are even more problematic when you consider the fact that Facebook has been mired in repeated data privacy concerns and data breaches, coupled with security flaws recently detected on WhatsApp.

HR Daily Advisor: The report found something interesting about social likes. Can you explain?

According to our Q4 2018 platform usage data, updates garnered 77% of the total likes on the enterprise social network, while comments only accounted for 14% of the total likes on the platform. I found this particularly interesting because it indicates a similarity between consumer social “liking” behaviors and enterprise social “liking” behaviors. Social “likes” have become the equivalent of a hug or pat on the back to most people these days. It’s such a natural part of our lives that even when content doesn’t directly relate to a person or their interests, that person will still, likely, click on the “like” icon. Why? Sometimes, there’s no compelling reason for this behavior—it could just be a recurring behavioral pattern, with no realization of doing it.

In the context of our enterprise social network, the impetus for frontline workers to “like” an update could, in fact, be the direct result of some form of happiness derived by reading the update. For example, a regional manager may have posted an update on the enterprise social network announcing that a specific team/department has reached a major milestone (i.e., achieving a sales goal, improving the Net Promoter Score, the successful launch of a new branch/location, etc.). Colleagues may be inclined to “like” the update because they are genuinely elated and want to join in on the virtual celebration.

HR Daily Advisor: What finding was least surprising to you?

I’m not surprised that private messages and comments are the two most common types of content shared on our enterprise social network. Private messages allow for more direct, personalized communications with employees, while comments allow employees to forge a digital connection and bond with their colleagues.

HR Daily Advisor: What finding was the biggest surprise?

It was both interesting and surprising to see that comments ranked as the second most common type of update (12%) posted by frontline workers in Q4 2018, making them more popular than news and events. To get a bit closer to understanding this finding, I asked myself this question: What could be driving frontline workers to write comments on fellow colleagues’ posts?

For one, it could be to express virtual empathy. If a coworker calls in sick or suffers a loss in the family, posting a comment is a way for employees to show they care (even if they cannot physically be there for their colleague). Another reason frontline workers could be posting comments more often than other types of posts could be practicality, such as wanting to get more information, clarifying something, or simply wanting to be part of the virtual conversation.