Employees armed with Facebook, smartphones among biggest company boosters

Employees are more likely to advocate for their companies if they're optimistic about technology, though IT pros themselves aren't especially big corporate boosters according to a new Forrester Research study.

Employees outfitted with smartphones and social network tools for work - as well as those who use the Internet after hours for work - are more likely to promote their company, according to Matt Brown, a Forrester VP who is research director in the content and collaboration field. 

Also read: Tips for crafting a great workplace IT security  awareness program 

Taking a page from marketers who use something called the Net Promotor method of measuring customer loyalty, Forrester posed two questions to 5,519 information workers in North America, the U.K., France and Germany:

*How likely are you to recommend your company's products or services to a friend or family member?

* How likely are you to recommend a job at your company to a friend or family member?

Overall, the numbers show that workers aren't huge advocates for their companies, something that's not surprising in this economy but that also can't be helping companies overcome the tough market.

"It's entirely possible that the struggling economy has kept disgruntled workers in their jobs longer than normal, artificially depressing scores at the time we did this study (July/August)," writes Brown.

About a quarter of respondents were deemed promoters (those who marked down 9 or 10 on  a scale of 0-10) and almost half were deemed detractors, with the rest neutral on the matter of product/service recommendations. On job recommendations, the numbers were about the same, though there were a few less detractors.

The numbers vary based on location and job level: North American workers are three times as likely to advocate as European ones.  Senior managers are the strongest advocates and customer service employees are among the greatest detractors - obviously not a good thing for people interacting directly with customers.

In North America, about half of the workers who use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and the like are promoters vs. only about a third who don't use such tools.  Some 42% of smartphone users at work were advocates vs. 30% of non-smartphone users, and 39% of those using the Internet after work for business are advocates vs.29% who don't, Forrester found. Though Brown did point out to IT pros who are Forrester's clients: "As IT professionals who are presumably in love with technology, you actually buck the trend" by not being strong advocates, like employees in HR, finance and sales.

Brown told Network World that the response by IT pros isn't so surprising when you consider that many IT staffs are focused largely on indirect commercial activities like enabling sales and marketing with technology . His take is that respondents felt:  "I'm in IT, that's not my job." Brown says that attitude might change as employees move up the  leadership ladder, though Forrester has yet to dissect its survey results to that degree.

Based on its findings, Forrester recommends using content and collaboration tools to support HR hiring and recruiting efforts, such as by tapping into the social networks of company advocates.  It also suggests incenting employees to advocate for the company and educating higher-ups about the potential benefits of putting social media, mobile and other technologies into more employees' hands.

Advocate for Bob Brown by retweeting him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

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This story, "Employees armed with Facebook, smartphones among biggest company boosters" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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