Employee wellbeing influences corporate reputation in social media

By Joonas Rokka

In a research I have published recently in the Journal of Marketing Management, we show how social media accentuates the role of employee and corporate reputation management. According to findings drawn from multiple business sectors and different types of companies, the research claims that companies need to focus more on managing employees as active reputation builders and brand ambassadors in social media instead of conceiving them only as possible reputation risks.

We observe an increasing and consistent need to address the heightened role of employees in social media, regardless of whether the company has an official presence there. This need emerges from the fact that employees have a crucial role as active meaning makers and reputation builders in various social-media networks that include customers, colleagues, and friends, and in which the boundaries between work and non-work roles begin to lose their sharp contours. Hence, the ways in which companies balance between managing work and the private lives of their employees, as well as openness and control, becomes an issue that needs careful attention.

In particular, the study highlights that investments in employee wellbeing contribute to more effective company reputation-building in social media. When companies trust and treat employees fairly, and adopt good day-to-day management practices, employees will do good for the company in return. For instance, by sharing their experiences of the company and its products in social media. The data was gathered from managers in three different business sectors: fast-moving consumer goods (food products), financial services (banking) and professional services (new media consulting).

Key findings of the study include:

• Employees are perceived as a fundamental element of reputation management

• Employee well-being influences social-media presence and, ultimately, reputation

• Achieving transparency is more important for reputation building than seeking to avoid negative impressions or risks

• Reputation management in social media can be seen as balancing acts that are particular ways of making sense of various contradictions, paradoxes, and tensions related to branding and managing employees

The full reference of the study is: Joonas Rokka, Katariina Karlsson and Janne Tienari, (2013) Balancing acts: Managing employees and reputation in social media. Journal of Marketing Management, in press, published online 15.7.2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2013.813577  

About the author

Joonas Rokka is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Neoma Business School.

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