The Northern California Human Resource Association (NCHRA) and customer feedback crowdsourcing firm Waggl have released new data from their joint Voice of the Workplace study on the subject of social media and transparency in the workplace.

According to the research, 59 percent of the participants responded that they agree with the following statement: “The rise of social media has made my organization more transparent.” The responses illustrated some interesting splits across various demographics including gender, industry, and size of organization:

  • Among male participants, 68 percent felt that their organizations had become more transparent due to social media, whereas only 54 percent of female participants felt it was the case.
  • Among respondents from non-profits, only 55 percent felt their organizations had become more transparent, in comparison with 62 percent from the technology industry.
  • Perhaps most notably, 69 percent of participants from large enterprise organizations with 10,000 employees or more felt that their organizations had become more transparent, in contrast with 50 percent from organizations with 201-1,000 employees.

Participants were also asked whether, in light of recent events at Uber and Google, their organizations have changed their views/philosophy on how employees should utilize social media. In answer to this question, only 24 percent of the participants said that they felt that their organizations had changed.

“Within the HR community, transparency is usually regarded as a positive attribute within the organization, because it can be used to cultivate trust,” said Greg Morton, CEO at NCHRA, in a news release. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen several instances in the news recently that illustrate how that transparency can backfire if the organization has underlying cultural issues that haven’t been addressed.

“The results of this pulse indicate that social media is one of the driving factors in encouraging transparency, but it’s certainly not the only one,” he added. “Organizations don’t appear to be making changes in direct response to specific events in which employees of well-known companies have spoken out openly on social media. Nevertheless, HR professionals do believe that fostering transparency is valuable, and essential to building trust within an organization.”

The survey also posed the question, “What is the most significant potential outcome of increased transparency within an organization?” and distilled crowdsourced responses into a ranked list. The top three answers provided by the HR professionals who participated were:

  • “Increased trust between company leadership and its employees. Increased trust will drive credibility, accountability, performance and productivity and fiscal outcomes.”
  • “Increased transparency within the organization has the potential to build stronger unity among all levels of employees helping to improve communications and understanding.”
  • “Employees will feel more invested in the organization, and leadership will have to practice what they preach about company values. If that happens a more engaged and productive workforce will emerge.”

“As we’ve seen from the responses on this pulse, social media has served as a catalyst for many companies to cultivate greater transparency, but the benefits go far beyond avoiding a negative post from an employee,” said Michael Papay, co-founder and CEO at Waggl, in the release. “Cultivating transparency can create stronger of cohesion around the goals and vision of an organization. Wider dispersion of knowledge builds a shared sense of purpose and investment that leads to increased inclusion, trust, engagement and accountability. Transparency ultimately leads to better connections between people, and can help to facilitate a more agile organization.”

The survey was sent by NCHRA to over 20,000 HR professionals using Waggl’s crowdsourced listening platform from August 10-August 25, 2017, including the attendees of the HR TechXpo at Hilton Union Square in San Francisco, CA on August 25, 2017.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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