Improve the work environment by analyzing it
Why it matters
Work environment not only affects employee turnover but also productivity.
How social network analysis is used
A social network analysis lets you identify informal networks, peripheral employees and assess the organizational culture to help you improve the work environment.
Template for the study
The following four questions are the type of questions you would ask in survey and analyze the responses to in a social network analysis.
- How often do you talk with the following people?
- How well do you know the following people?
- How much do you enjoy working with the following people?
- How much do you trust the following people?
What to look for in the analysis
Identify informal social networks
The answers for all the four questions reveal informal networks. The four informal networks are however different in their nature and size. The most comprehensive informal network is the first one about communication (formal and informal). Communication is the basis for all the other informal networks.
The first question is particularly good for both spotting peripheral employees and isolated clusters. Such isolated employees are more likely to leave the company, not enjoy the work and workplace, and even be less productive. Isolated groups can be a problem too: they are prone to groupthink and a “them versus us” mentality.
In a similar manner the social network diagram for how well people know each other (second question) can be assessed. To some degree it will show the same relationships, but also reflect the individuals’ different understanding of knowing someone and their history with the others. Generally, an employee that has been with the company for long will know more than someone that joined the company recently.
An enjoyable social work environment?
Some employees are energisers: people that everybody enjoy working with. In this study they are easily identified with the person statistics table or by the visualization for the third question. They show up as people with many in-bound connections and they also tend to have high out-degrees.
Employees who have not indicated any or just one as someone they enjoy working with should have the manager’s interest. These people are, like the isolated people identified earlier, employees who are more likely to leave the organization.
Understand trust at the workplace
Trust is fundamental to well being at work. The third question seeks to reveal social networks for trust. A work environment with few people trusting each other, such as a highly competitive one, tends to have a high employee turnover. How much employees trust each other also have a great impact on work: the more trust, the more information is shared.
Besides identifying people that are highly trusted or not trusted and highly trusting or not trusting, it is interesting to see trust across groups and within groups. A matrix for trust between groups is shown below.
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