Social media platforms are a powerful tool for connecting with others, and a new study suggests that this extends into the business world.
CEOs who use social media to communicate with their employees are seen as better communicators, which in turn leads to stronger relationships between companies and their employees.
These findings come out of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and were published in the November 2015 journal Public Relations Review.
Rita Linjuan Men, public relations professor, surveyed more than 500 employees at American businesses. Her study found that when CEOs are seen as responsive – that is, compassionate and willing to listen – the relationship between employees and the company improves. Social media plays an important role in this process.
Employees, who held a variety of positions in the company, were asked about the communications style of their CEO. Participants ranked their CEO in terms of responsiveness and assertiveness, using measures such as interested, warm, friendly, dominant, aggressive and competitive. They then reported the types of communications they typically received from their CEO – whether the CEO tended to send memos and emails or preferred face-to-face conversations.
Participants then answered a series of questions regarding their relationship with their company. They were asked how much they trusted their company to “keep its promises,” how much control they felt over their company’s future and how committed they were to the company.
Men found that, although both responsive CEOs and assertive CEOs had a positive influence on their employees’ relationship with the company, the responsive style gained more positive reactions.
“Responsive CEOs are sensitive to the needs of employees, are willing to listen to what employees have to say, and recognize the voice and benefits of employees,” Men explains.
The study also found that CEOs who use social media to communicate with their employees are seen as more responsive than leaders who do not. Participants who said their CEO used social media were more likely to have a positive relationship with their company and feel like there is opportunity for connection and open dialogue with their top management.
For those working in the public relations field, it’s important to “encourage CEOs to be open-minded, embrace changes, build a prominent and visible social media presence, and personally interact with their employees through social media to proactively listen.”
This post originally appeared on University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Research and Insights blog.