Social tools at work: Employees 👍, Execs 🤷

Even though executives may not use them, social technologies available to employees is changing how they communicate with each other, complete projects and form teams.

A brand new study from the McKinsey Global Institute found that nearly 3/4 of executives rely primarily on older tech to communicate at work: email, phone calls and texting (and this would still be new tech for some). 

But the survey revealed something different for employees. For those who do have access to social technologies, 45% say they are very or extremely integrated into day-to-day communication at work (up from 33% just a year ago).  And if you wanted to even include those who said there's "somewhat" of a difference, the number rises to 70%. 


And I think this is an exciting statistic for communicators as they battle to get organizations out of silos. Employees who have access to message-based platforms are way more likely to have communicated with their peers across teams functions and business units than those who do not have access to these platforms. 


What is not surprising though from the study is that email and phone are still the channels where employees are spending most of their time. But at companies that have message-based platforms, the collaboration platforms and apps channel becomes the second most used. Email use goes down. Phone use goes down. And people are using the apps. 

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Despite the disappointing news that most executives find social technologies as "supplemental," there is some good news from the research. The changes happening in employee-to-employee communication is notable for a few reasons. As the study details, the internal use of social technologies remains the most common reason companies adopt these tools. And the numbers continue to rise. 

In 2016, 85% of respondents said their companies used social technologies for internal purposes, this is up a bit from 80% in 2015 and 69% in 2014. McKinsey also found that the relevance of these social tools also appears at the process level. Departments like Procurement, Customer Service and Supply-Chain Management and now using these tools more than ever. 

My take

Beyond the study, this is a chance for internal communicators to understand how their own employees and executives are using social technologies and capture these thoughts. The McKinsey research can be used as a comparison, but a light one at best. It's more important to capture the sentiments of those inside your organization and provide them the tools they need.

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