Employees skeptical of execs touting enterprise social, survey finds

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Among the primary selling points of enterprise social tools is their ability to prick the executive bubble and allow business leaders to get at the perhaps less than beautiful truth about what’s actually going on at lower levels of their organizations. By facilitating information sharing across organizational divides and hierarchical levels, this argument goes, social tools will help businesses forge a more cohesive and transparent culture.

It’s an argument to which employees apparently respond: Oh please! According to a surprising new survey from Deloitte, many executives have bought the party line on the effects of enterprise social media far more than frontline employees, who largely view social as more empty rhetoric out of the C-suite.

The Core Values and Beliefs survey from Deloitte asked 1,000 employees and about 300 executives for their views on social tools and the impact of these technologies on their organizations. In news that will surprise those who see social tools infiltrating organizations from the bottom up, driven by employee’s comfort with consumer social, the poll found much greater enthusiasm for social among execs that frontline team members.

  • 45 percent of executives say social media has a positive impact on workplace culture; 27 percent of employees agree
  • 41 percent of executives believe that social networking helps build and maintain workplace culture; 21 percent of employees agree
  • 38 percent of executives say social media allows for increased transparency; 17 percent of employees agree
  • 46 percent of executives say social media and online collaboration tools are critical to building and maintaining relationships with colleagues; 27 percent of employees agree

What do these numbers add up to? “Our research suggests executives are possibly using social media as a crutch in building workplace culture and appearing accessible to employees. While business leaders should recognize how people communicate today, particularly Millennials, they must keep in mind the limits of these technologies. The norms for cultivating culture have not changed, and require managers to build trust through face-to-face meetings, live phone calls and personal messages,” said Punit Renjen, chairman of the board, Deloitte.

Or in other words, implementing social technologies is all well and good, but employees will see through any claims that these tools are transparency, culture or cohesion boosting if the implementation is not backed up with an accessible, democratic approach by executives.

Do you think executives are often only paying lip service to the bureaucracy busting democratic ideals of enterprise social? 

Image courtesy of Flickr user fredcamino

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