Assessing the use of social media for employee engagement in the Singapore military
Tan, Kok Yew
Date of Issue2017
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This study assesses the potential of social media in the engagement of employees, particularly in the military, through literature review and interviews with current and former employees from the Singapore military. The possible role and application social media could have on military employee engagement are derived through the study of the characteristics of employment in a military and non-military organization, and the transferability of employee engagement strategies across both organizational settings. The transferability of the essences of literature on employee engagement are specifically possible by studying the employees’ informational and emotional needs through the lenses of Social Identity Theory (Taifel & Turner, 1979) and Affect Control Theory (Heise, 1979), which add on to Bray, Marsden and Peterson’s (1991) argument that the employees are similar in their values and needs as the military employees were drawn from the civilian population while the organizational setting might differ. As Generation Y (Gen Y) dominates the working population worldwide and blurs the possible divide between the characteristics between military and civilian employees with their informational and emotional needs (Trunk, 2007; Yeaton, 2008; Solnet, Kralj & Kandampully, 2012), this study postulates the applicability of its findings from the Armed Forces in Singapore beyond its confines. The findings of this study reveal insights of employee engagement concepts like the Hierarchy of Engagement (Penna, 2007), which dissects employee engagement factors into tiers similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1970), and Currivan’s (2000) research, which dwelled into how employee job satisfaction and organizational commitment can influence turnover rates. The employee engagement best practices are cross-examined with the interviews to sharpen the approach by the military organization and to enhance what the literature offers. The military’s adaptation of communication technologies like emails, text messaging applications and social media for employee engagement have become a societal norm. The employees’ increasing informational needs with the faster and higher bandwidth of the internet and mobile networks, spurs the research further to examine the potential of social media use and if it is entirely transferable from what commercial organizations do. The interviews also revealed the emotional needs of military employees, being in a non-profit organization with a large number of employees and high operational demands preferring organizational communication with more personal touch. With the cross-examination of the characteristics and effectiveness of social media use for employee engagement and communication in the public domains by the commercial sector, this research refines the implication of communicating the organization’s reputation as a form of enhancing employees’ organizational commitment itself. The findings from this research reinforces the need for employee engagement to reduce resource strains from high turnover rates when corporate knowledge is eroded and training overheads rise correspondingly. This study is arguably the first study applying findings from military employee engagement research onto the corporate setting by using common benchmarks from established employee engagement theories.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Communication::Organizational communication
Nanyang Technological University