Social Networking in Government

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Results of a Web-based survey of federal, state and county/municipal government agencies conducted by the Human Capital Institute and SABA.

Text of Social Networking in Government

  • Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges Part I: An Overview of Opportunities & Challenges Human Capital Institute January 2010
  • Social Networking in Government Part I: An Overview of Opportunities & Challenges Executive Summary Social networking (SN) has become the new online rage. Blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have provided creative ways to recruit, engage, connect and retain employees. They have also provided an opportunity to facilitate strategic knowledge sharing across organizations and government agencies. Most SN tools are Web-based and provide a variety of ways for users that share interests interests and/ or activities to interact. Users can share best practices and build communities of practice. These tools provide e-mail and instant messaging services constant connectivity. SN tools can help with the current challenges facing todays government agencies such as brain drain from a retiring workforce, the need to create inter-agency knowledge sharing and an increased need to imbed talent tools where the work is getting done. Despite the growing consensus that social networking tools can improve talent management, performance and service to customers (or, for government agencies, the affected public), recent studies by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and others show that, in general, government agencies lag behind the private sector in their adoption of social networking (SN) tools see Figure 1. 2 Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges Part I: An Overview of Opportunities & Challenges Copyright 2010 Human Capital Institute. All rights reserved.
  • Figure 1. Percentage of Organizations Using Various Social Networking Tools Private sector results from Fall 2008 study. Public sector results from current Summer 2009 study. **Note: in the current survey of government agency use of SN tools, respondents were asked if they used threaded discussion boards, message boards and/or discussion threads. Since some respondents may not differentiate between these three types of tools, the results are combined meaning that the 26 percent may be an overestimate of government use of threaded discussion boards and the actual gap between private and public sector use may be even greater. 26% Threaded discussion boards 33% 23% Instant messaging/Chat 54% 31% Blogs/Wikis 39% 32% Government Communities of practice groups 54% Corporate 29% Don't use social networking tools 15% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% n=192 (private sector); n=607 (public sector) For those with an interest and stake in better leveraging the capabilities of Web 2.0 and SN tools in government, it is critical to better understand the current state of use of SN tools, future expectations and the factors that influence both. To explore these issues, HCI and Saba partnered on a research study to explore: owmany(andwhich)SNtoolsarebeingcurrentlyusedingovernmentworkplaces; H hecurrenteffectivenessandfutureimportanceofSNtoolstocarryoutkeytalentmanagement T and performance functions in various government workplaces; hecriticalbarrierstotheimplementationandexpansionofthetoolsingovernmentaswell T as the best practices for overcoming these barriers. To discover the answers, a Web-based survey was completed by 607 respondents from federal, state and county/municipal government agencies. This report is the first in a three-part series on the use of social networking tools in government and will provide an overview of their current and future use. For this study, we differentiated between social networking functions and social networking public Web sites. SN functions such as communities of practice, blogs and threaded discussion boards are general approaches to creating and using social networks and can be implemented with publicly available or customized organizational software. Social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook are publicly available Web sites designed for general social networking that can be used by agencies for some of their own social networking needs. 3 Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges Part I: An Overview of Opportunities & Challenges Copyright 2010 Human Capital Institute. All rights reserved.
  • Key Findings: Overall Use of Social Networking Tools in the Government Workplace ixty-six(66)percentofgovernmentworkplacesusesometypeofSNtoolandsixty-five(65) S percent of those are using more than one tool. mployeeLearningandDevelopmentandPublicCommunicationsaretheworkfunctionsfor E which SN tools are most frequently used. unctionsalignedwithknowledge sharing and informal learning and development are the F most likely to be effectively conducted via SN tools. Workforce management and project planning are the functions least likely to be effectively conducted via SN tools. ommunitiesofpractice/groupsaretheSNtoolsmostfrequentlyusedindicatingthegoal C of improving collaboration. overnmentworkersratethefutureimportanceofSNtoolshigherthanthecurrent G effectiveness highlighting a major opportunity for future expansion. inkedIn,FacebookandTwitterarethethreemostpopularSNpublicWebsiteshighlighting L the value that many organizations find in leveraging already existing tools for their own purposes. Key Findings: The Future of Social Networking Tools in the Government Workplace ecurityrestrictionsarethemajorbarriertofutureuseofSNtoolsmanyworkplacessimply S bar all SN tools, while others place restrictions on what SN tools can be used or the employees who are allowed to use them. orthoseworkplaceswilling/abletoovercomesecurityconcerns,therearehighexpectations F for the improvements in talent management and performance that SN tools can achieve. Background: Social Networks and Government Today For most people, in and out of the government workplace, social networks primarily are one of the major Web sites designed to connect people, such as MySpace and Facebook. These sites serve as feature-rich chat boards in which an individuals site can be connected to a large group of friends. LinkedIn, a Web site with growing popularity among professionals, is similar in that it also provides tools to easily create groups of connected people. It also emphasizes sections for jobs, service provider recommendations and job-related questions. However, SN tools are not limited to public Web sites. They also include very specific tools, some modeled on the public sites and others using other aspects of Web 2.0 technology that can be used within an organization to build better collaboration, improve employee learning and development and make government information more accessible to the public. 4 Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges Part I: An Overview of Opportunities & Challenges Copyright 2010 Human Capital Institute. All rights reserved.
  • Several government agencies are taking advantage of these Web 2.0 tools for recruiting and talent management, as well as improving job performance.1 For example, the CIA leverages Facebook as a methodofattractingcollegestudentstoapplyforinternshipsorjobs.Incontrast,theEnvironmental Protection Agency created a Facebook network for employees to achieve better talent management as a way to share knowledge, build collaboration and improve employee engagement. Other agencies are using public social networking Web sites as models for their own