According to a recent news release by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Buck Consultants, “The most common communication vehicles organizations use to engage employees and foster productivity are e-mail (83 percent) and an organization’s intranet (75 percent).”
The survey of 900 communication professionals also reveals that even though social media is increasingly used by companies to communicate internally and externally, most top executives do not use social media for either purpose. Most companies in the study also do not have policies for workplace use of social media nor do they measure the success of its use. Of those who do use social networking, Facebook, instant messaging, and Twitter are the preferred channels.
Interestingly, though companies identify listening as “essential to employee engagement and retention,” a third report that little training is provided to develop listening skills among employees.
Research such as this provides several opportunities for the business communication classroom:
- This article can be introduced in a unit on listening skills. Students can write to a hypothetical manager, providing recommendations for developing listening skills that promote productivity, engagement, and retention.
- When discussing communication channels, this survey can be used as an illustration that being able to write effective emails is essential—even when it seems as though everyone is texting or tweeting instead.
- While most companies in this study do not have policies for social networking in the workplace, many companies do. Students can discuss why companies may or may not have these policies, whether such policies are necessary, and what these policies might look like. Social Media Governance provides a database of several organizations’ social networking and Internet use policies to use as examples.
- To prepare for their own research reports, students can view the report and evaluate the soundness of the research questions, methodology, conclusions, and the survey itself.
- The survey can be used as the impetus for more research:
- Students can research communication trends in their fields and write individual reports.
- Students can work in groups, where each person in the group represents a different field or major. Students can research trends in their individual fields and then synthesize the information in one report.
Sometimes students (and business professionals, too!) prefer communication channels for their expediency rather than their appropriateness; however, students’ ability to choose the most effective channel is essential to their success. If you have tips or strategies for teaching students the importance of choosing an appropriate communication channel, please share them with us.