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Ask The Experts

Questions from students. Advice from professors.

Dr. Stephanie Dailey

Question: I work part-time at a company that just launched an internal social media platform – it’s like Facebook, but only employees at our company can join. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, but I think it’s kind of counterproductive in a work setting. Should I accept my boss’s friend request?

Advice: Your company is one of the many organizations who have recently launched “enterprise social media.” In a recent study, my colleagues and I found that younger people who use social media frequently in their personal lives are more skeptical about enterprise social media. The open, personal nature of communication that we associate with existing social media is explicitly the type of communication many of us want to avoid at work.

However, there are many benefits of internal social media that you might consider. Social media can provide more open communication, greater sharing, and increased connections, which has the opportunity of improving work. Social media has different purposes and benefits in different contexts, and it can be just as useful in your work life as it is at home.

My roommate was interviewing for an internship and got asked to come back for an “optional” second interview. He really hates interviewing, so he decided to skip the second interview and just take the job. Did he make the right decision?

As painful as interviews can be, communication research shows that there is an incredible amount of information that is shared during these interactions. The interview is an important learning tool for employers (to learn about you, your skill set, and how to help you succeed) and interviewees (to learn about the company culture, job requirements, and overall fit). Interestingly, studies show that even if we learn negative information about a company or job during the interview, those messages are beneficial and help us feel more satisfied in subsequent work.

I’ve noticed that a lot of companies in Austin and San Antonio have free on-site gyms. I know that working out is obviously good for your health, but why do so many businesses offer wellness perks?

About half of all employers with 50 or more employees offer wellness programs, and there are several reasons why companies encourage employees’ health behaviors. Businesses benefit from health programs because such initiatives increase work productivity, reduce employee absences, and decrease turnover. For employees, taking part in wellness programs has been shown to boost physical activity, positively influence employees’ dietary behavior, and even control obesity rates. From a communication perspective, my research also demonstrates that participating in wellness programs can help workers feel more engaged with their employers.

Participation in my student organization is really low. People frequently miss meetings, don’t seem to care what decisions we make, and never volunteer to help. I’m worried we may not have enough members for next year. What can I do to revitalize this group?

People are more likely to participate and contribute to groups when they feel a sense of attachment or identification. Does your student organization have a rival or competitor? Studies suggest that people often feel a stronger organizational bond when they can be distinguished from another group (think Yankees and the Red Sox). Also, we feel connected to organizations when we represent them, both verbally and nonverbally. Try giving members specific agenda items to discuss during meetings so that they are held accountable and can take part in meetings. Nonverbally, think about t-shirts or other visual symbols that members can wear to represent and feel part of the organization. By strengthening members’ identification, people will take a more active role in the group.

For More Advice:

Cheney, G., Christensen, L. T., & Dailey, S. L. (2013). Communicating identity and identification in and around organizations. In L. L. Putnam & D. K. Mumby (Eds.), The handbook of organizational communication (3rd ed.; pp. 695-714). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dailey, S. L. (Accepted for Publication). What happens before full-time employment? Internships as a mechanism of anticipatory socialization. Western Journal of Communication.

Dailey, S. L., & Zhu, Y. (In Preparation). Communicating health at work: Organizational wellness programs as identity bridges. Health Communication.

Treem, J. W., Dailey, S. L., Pierce, C. S., & Leonardi, P. M. (2015). Bringing technological frames to work: How previous experience with social media shapes the technology's meaning in an organization. Journal of Communication, 65(2), 396-422. doi: 10.1111/jcom.1214