Thought Leadership Essays

Using Social Network Analysis to Visualize Employee Engagement

May 7, 2010

Vikas Narula

There is plenty of research out there supporting the value of having close friends at work. Higher satisfaction, stronger engagement.  Intuitively it makes sense: if you like the people you work with everyday, you’ll be happier and more involved.

While traditional surveys can help organizations understand level of employee engagement/satisfaction, Social Network Analysis (SNA) can help firms visualize it. This methodology uncovers the social anatomy of an organization and exposes key influencers and/or isolates in an otherwise, complex web of relationships.  If friendships can drive engagement, then visualizing a company’s social network should tell you a thing or two about the health of an organization.

Below are mutual friendship maps of two different firms with roughly the same number of employees.

Which company do you think has higher satisfaction and engagement?  Which company’s social fabric is more vulnerable in the face of employee attrition or turnover?

Relative to Company B, Company A exhibits a tighter, denser friendship network – many mutual connections creating a strong social fabric.  Given the research regarding friends in the workplace, does this map tell us something about employee satisfaction, culture and engagement?

Company B has a much thinner (fragmented) social network. Look at what happens when three key social hubs are absent from Company B.

What else do these maps tell you about Company A and B?

Social Network Analysis is a relatively new concept to the business world, but it will not be long before this methodology is used routinely to visualize, measure and assess the overall health of an organization.

Vikas Narula (@NarulaTweets) is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs (@Keyhubs) – a software and services company specializing in workplace social analytics.


  1. Maura |
    14 Years Ago

    Wow, this really creates a stunning impact when you compare Company A and Company B – particularly when you remove just a few social hubs from Company B!

  2. vnarula |
    14 Years Ago

    Glad you found the post useful Maura!


  3. Shivesh Vishwanathan |
    13 Years Ago

    Very informative post, Vikas. I am sure a periodic analysis of this network map for an organization will reveal a great deal on what’s going on inside.

    I can also see that company A has a more “well-rounded” network. The circles are roughly the same size (No pun intended!) Does the size of the circle reflect number of incoming links?

  4. vnarula |
    13 Years Ago

    Thank you Shivesh. Yes, to your question about circle size.

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