NEW YORK, May 23, 2013 — Despite the explosion of social media in the personal lives of many people, a new survey by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) shows that just over half of employers are using social media tools to communicate and build community with employees. Further, among those employers that have embraced social media technology, there is little consensus as to which ones are most effective.

The 2013 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Survey found that 56% of the employers surveyed currently use various social media tools as part of their internal communication initiatives to build community — creating a sense that employees and leaders are in it together, and sharing both the challenges and rewards of work. However, when asked how they would rate the effectiveness of social media tools, only 30% to 40% of respondents rated most of the tools as highly effective. And only four in 10 (40%) rated the use of social media technology as cost effective.

Effectiveness of social media tools

% that use % of those that use and find it effective
Instant messaging 73% 48%
Streaming audio or video 61% 48%
HR or other function journal or blog 55% 35%
Enhanced online employee profiles 54% 37%
Social networks 53% 29%
Employee journals or blogs 52% 37%
SMS messaging 51% 39%
Leadership journal or blog 48% 36%
Collaboration sites 45% 33%
Video-sharing site 44% 36%
Apps or other mobile approaches 44% 39%

"We believe that social media can be a great tool for communicating with employees in the workplace," said Kathryn Yates, global leader of communication consulting at Towers Watson. "By its nature, social media is designed to build community and could help engage employees on key topics such as performance, collaboration, culture and values. As the need for global collaboration increases, we expect more companies will join those already leveraging social media to creatively communicate those messages."

The Towers Watson survey also found that while four in 10 employers (41%) say they are effective at building a shared experience with their employees as a whole, the percentage drops by roughly half (to 23%) when it comes to building community with remote workers.

"As today's workforce evolves, we know from our research that the growing number of remote workers are looking for clear communication, to be treated with integrity, and want coaching and support from afar. For employers to effectively engage and retain remote workers, they will need to connect them with their leaders, managers and colleagues. We think social media tools can be a real help in making this connection," said Yates.

About the Survey

The 2013 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Survey was conducted in April 2013. A total of 290 large and midsize organizations from across North America, Europe and Asia participated in the survey.

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.