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Does enterprise social network usage = employee happiness?

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Does enterprise social network usage = employee happiness?

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That social networks, such as Facebook, have had a significant impact upon our mental wellbeing is probably hard to dispute.  Dispute may of course occur over whether that impact has been a positive one, and there have been numerous studies highlighting the dangerous side-effects of social networking usage.

One recent study, conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia, highlights the role social networks play on our sense of social belonging.  The study suggested that social network usage can actually make us feel more socially connected.

“Social networking sites such as Facebook, which has more than a billion users a month, give people immediate reminders of their social relationships and allow them to communicate with others whenever they want,” researchers said.

The key to this level of belonging was the interaction they received from other users. Their first study saw active social media users recruited to the team.  Half of these were then asked to continue their normal behaviour, whilst the other half were asked simply to lurk.

A second study then saw participants using accounts setup by the research team and encouraged to post and comment on the content of others via Facebook, with around half of participants receiving regular engagement, and the other half effectively ignored.

The findings showed that both the lurkers and the ostracised groups reported lower levels of both belonging and meaningful existence than their more engaged peers.  What’s more, the ostracised group also reported lower levels of self-esteem and self control.

“The studies allowed us to examine how belonging depends on how much people are sharing on Facebook, the kinds of experiences they are having on the site and whether they are being ignored or validated by others,” researchers said.

“The results clearly identified that active participation is necessary to decrease feelings of social rejection.”

I’m not aware of any similar studies looking at the effect enterprise social networking activity has upon employee engagement and general feelings of connectivity, both with our peers and our employer.  Maybe that’s something for the vendors to look at?

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