Social media has had an outsized effect on engagement strategies for the past decade. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified that trend. 93% of adults in the US are online now. That creates opportunities for improved engagement in two vectors: up-and-out with citizens, & down-and-in with employees. Let’s look at each, beginning with employees.

Employees who feel included in more detailed communication (about post-COVID-19 working arrangements) are 5 times more likely to report increased productivity.


Telework is now clearly practical for a wider range of roles than management appreciated previously. We have productivity measures for many jobs that seemed ‘squishy’. Even better, those productivity measures show improved outcomes due to telework. This presents a welcome opportunity for reduced office real estate costs, particularly in high cost areas like Washington DC. However, telework has also had a negative impact on employee engagement. Many employees are feeling burned-out, anxious, and increasingly disconnected. They’re experiencing zoom-fatigue. They’re missing those impromptu water-cooler conversations and casual interactions. They’re concerned about the lack of concrete back-to-work plans1. In fact 47% of employees feel a lack of a clear vision about the post-pandemic world is a cause for concern. What to do? It’s time for executives to lift their game in employee engagement through social media channels. The immediacy and personalization features offer new ways to connect with employees in a healthy 2-way dialog. Dialog will lift engagement, which will lift productivity. It’s a win-win.

A word of caution for those who have postponed actively engaging with their employees. Talent retention is at stake. Let’s consider a few statistics. 75% of employees say that the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss.2 ~30% of employees say they are likely to switch jobs if they are returned fully to on-site work3. 52% of employees prefer a more flexible working model post-pandemic. The Biden administration is taking active steps to bolster the economy, including proposed investment in infrastructure. New job opportunities are emerging rapidly. Meanwhile 56% of American workers state that their boss is mildly or highly toxic4. That’s the primary reason people “hire a new boss” somewhere else. Speaking only for myself, I have had to hire a new boss only a few times, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

So my message to my fellow C-Suite executives is simple and sweet. This is the time to strengthen employee engagement through clearer communications, open dialog, and healthy relationships. When it comes to planning for a post pandemic future, treat your employees as part of the solution, not part of the problem.


The same opportunities exist for leveraging social media to improve engagement up-and-out with citizens and other stakeholders. Consumer experiences significantly shape citizen expectations for easy access to government services. However, many government organizations still find it a challenge to deliver digital access to personalized services is still a challenge for many organizations. There is a wide mix of online opportunities and technologies. The mix of popular social media channels is continually evolving (Figure 1). This can make it difficult to decide where to get started.

What’s more, social media channel adoption varies between demographic groups. To cope, government organizations need to develop robust sense-and-respond capabilities. Further, they need to develop the capacity to dynamically adjust their mix of options as events dictate. And they need to be able to coordinate it all through human-centered journeys. In fact, this is exactly the place to start – customer journeys. Not technology options. Not choices of social media channels. It all starts with the intentionally adopting a customer-first mindset to guide your Digital Transformation. Look differently at the public you serve. Get clear about which customer segment youʼre supporting at a given time. Identify service pain points and develop a modern, streamlined, and responsive customer experience.

Michael Conlin

Michael Conlin​

Chief Technology Officer​
Phone: (703) 216-5856​​