This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center


Employees’ communication behaviors are essential for organizations because external stakeholders consider them more neutral than well-designed public relations messages. However, some organizations face the challenge that their employees may share inappropriate messages about them with external stakeholders on social media. Although previous studies have examined employee communication behaviors on social media, few have focused on employees in large organizations (those with more than 250 employees) or explored the antecedents of employees’ social media communication. Thus, the author of the current study filled the research gap by examining the perceptions and behaviors of employees working for large organizations and whether and how their situational perceptions can influence their communication behaviors on social media. As a result, the purpose of this study was to examine how organization-employee relationships (OERs) affect employees’ situational perceptions and the impact of their perceptions on their communication behaviors on social media.


A survey was conducted with employees who are currently working or have previously worked in large organizations in the United States and are social media users. Medium and small organizations, whose employees number fewer than 250, were not included in the population because they have distinct dynamics, and their public relations practices are considered less prominent than large organizations. Among the 449 respondents in the sample, 139 were males (31%) and 310 were females (69%). The mean age of the respondents was 52, and the median age was 53. The mean and median years that the respondents had worked for the large organization were 11.5 and 9, respectively. The employees in the sample had various positions in their organizations, including top management (9%), middle-level management (18%), lower-level management (15%), and nonmanagement (59%).

Key Findings

  1. Favorable OERs facilitated employees’ problem recognition (i.e., the extent to which individuals recognize that they should do something about situation and stop to consider ways to resolve it), and level of involvement (i.e., the extent to which people connect themselves with a situation), influencing their behaviors on social media.
  2. Favorable OERs weakened their constraint recognition (i.e., the extent to which people perceive that there are obstacles in a situation that limit their ability to do anything about the situation).
  3. Employees with high levels of involvement and low constraint recognition tend to seek out and process information on social media.
  4. Employees from large organizations who perceived fewer obstacles to resolving an organizational issue and feel connected with the organization not only sought and consumed relevant information on social media but also actively shared positive information about the issue on social media.
  5. Employees with high problem recognition levels were more likely to process information about the problem on social media.

Implications for practice

Organizations and CEOs need to 1) establish and maintain good relationships with their employees, which helps motivate employees to resolve organizational issues when they take place, 2) initiate and develop online conversations with employees on organizational social media to help them better understand the organizational crisis and facilitate their information seeking, processing, and sharing on social media, 3) provide high-quality content on organizational social media channels (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) and update these sites in a timely manner, and 4) establish guidelines and policies on employees’ social media communication related to organizational problems/crises.


Wang, Y. (2022). When relationships meet situations: Exploring the antecedents of employee communication behaviors on social media. Social science computer review, 40(1), 77-94.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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