EY: The Power of Social Media to Engage Highly Productive Teams

ksmith244    February 13, 2017

If you rewind seven or eight years ago, many organizations prohibited employees from accessing social websites on company computers viewing this new trend as a distraction and risk to business. However, the rise of smartphones made it nearly impossible to block the use entirely. Fast-forward to today and you’ll notice times have changed as to how social media is perceived in the business world. Instead of frowning upon sharing thoughts and ideas digitally, businesses now invest in social media tools for internal use. After all, the benefits of having a highly engaged workforce far outweighs the risk.

EY (formerly Ernst and Young) is one of the largest professional services firm in the world and specializes in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. EY is progressive in their approach to leveraging the power of social media to drive employee engagement. They have published performance reports such as Change 3.0: Using Social Media to Engage Your Workforce that discusses their research and the benefits of going social in the workplace. Currently with over 230,000 employees in over 150 countries, as well as an increasing number of Millennial employees joining the team, social media is a key part to building positive culture, engaging employees and delivering results.

Research conducted by EY demonstrated that 80% of enterprise change programs fail and a common denominator in this finding was tied to the lack of effective employee engagement. EY recognized that their average professional receives over 200 emails per day, so sending an important internal communication via email wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. In addition, it was recognized that perhaps an even bigger limitation to email was the failure to involve employees. Without dialogue, a commitment to encourage participation and to listen with intent, organizations risk successful adoptions to change.

Karen Spence is the Director of Internal Communication and People Engagement for North America. I connected with Karen to get a better understanding of why employee engagement is a priority at EY and how social media is facilitating that iniative. “When we say employees are our biggest asset, we really mean it. We provide business solutions and professional services so the quality and integrity of EY is dependent on the work completed by our teams. In addition to knowing that satisfied, engaged employees perform better, we also recognize that they are highly qualified and desirable by other employers. Being our greatest asset it only makes sense to invest in them and make their workplace experience a great one,” said Spence. She went on to say, “Social media brings a lot of value to the way we work. Teams around the world are able to connect instantaneously and they are part of a community. You can tell who is online and there is a level of openness when a fellow team member reaches out to you. This type of camaraderie doesn’t happen via email.”

An example of EY leveraging the power of social media came from a discussion on future investment and business strategy over a five-day virtual business meeting in 2015. Using EY’s innovation platform IdeaJam, participants posted their ideas, comments and rated their colleagues’ feedback. Over 350 ideas were shared to help shape the direction of talent acquisitions, marketing as well as investments. Key ideas were immediately acted upon and others fed into strategic plans.

Lessons for Others

Whether you work for a small business or large organization, several social technologies are available for internal use such as Facebook at WorkYammer, and Slack—all allowing teams anywhere to share ideas, send multimedia files and collaborate instantaneously. Employees expect (and are excited!) to be included in a dialogue, to actively participate, and most importantly to be heard.

While there are some free tools out there for smaller teams, most social media tools for business operate on a SaaS (software as a service) model and require licenses for each user. Before purchasing a new technology, explore what may already be available within your company. For example, SAP, Oracle, and Workday are common technologies utilized for HR and payroll purposes, but also offer social media extensions.

If left on their own, savvy employees will find ways to idea share. After all we in North America live in a cognitive-cultural economy where our brains are our greatest strength and our instinct is to collaborate. As a company it only makes sense to harness the intellectual power of employees and provide the tools to share ideas and make great things happen.

Organization: EY
Industry: Professional Services
Name of Organization Contact: Karen Spence, Director of Communications

Authored by: Kristy Smith

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Change 3.0: Using Social Media to Engage Employees. (2014, February). Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://performance.ey.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2014/02/EY-Performance-Using-social-media1.pdf

EY Launches Future Work Now (2017, January 26). Retrieved February 13, 2017, from PR News Wire, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ey-launches-future-work-now-to-put-human-back-in-human-resources-300397343.html

EY: Our Global Approach. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.ey.com/gl/en/about-us/our-global-approach

EY: Our People. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.ey.com/gl/en/about-us/our-people-and-culture