Abhijeet Ganguly is a certified Human Resource professional from HRCI. He has around 9 years of experience in all gamut of HR domain.
Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media apps can help workers improve company visibility, meet more clients, and keep up to date. At the same time, many workers are also frequent users of social media in their personal lives. So it's no wonder that the distinction between professional and personal usage at the workplace can be blurred.
According to the Pew Research Center survey, close to 60% of American employees use social media at work for personal use to escape from boredom leading to productivity loss.
Few surveys also suggest usage of social media at the workplace increase employee productivity, like the "Survey on enterprise social use and perceptions" by Microsoft in 2013 wherein 10000 respondents across the globe participated. According to the survey, 46% of staff report that their productivity has increased due to social media and social media resources and another 37% would like the management of their company to implement social media tools at the workplace to improve efficiency.
While there is no question about the genuineness of the surveys, however, these surveys fail to show a direct correlation relation between total time lost on the internet while using social media and employee productivity. The productivity of an employee depends on several factors, rather than only on the usage of social media.
Basis the survey results the only logical step remains is to either allow or restrict access to social media at the workplace. However, the employers should not go by the surveys alone; they need to see the industry trend before allowing or restricting usage of social networking sites.
Things to consider
Before taking a call about allowing or restricting access to social media at the workplace, employers should consider a few things:
- Employees have access to social media on their phones and with "Bring your own device" or "BYOD" culture, it has become difficult for organizations to manage access to social media in the workplace.
- Even if companies manage to stop employees from using social media at the workplace, they cannot stop them from writing anonymously about the organization, their new and old sulking bosses, and colleagues, etc.
- Globalization and Gig Economy have resulted in employees and subject matter experts from all over the world contributing to a single project virtually. Hence, some sort of communication tool is required to have virtual meetings, collaboration, and project management.
- With the majority of millennials in the workforce, "Instant Gratification" is what they want, hence the term gamification is around to keep them engaged.
- There will always be a few employees who like to while away their time, irrespective of access, or no access to social media at the workplace.
- Employers cannot ask workers to turn away from the social interaction at the workplace. Now the question arises, "Employers are not restricting on talking over the phone or going out for lunch, then how right is it to stop employees from surfing on the Web?"
The Current State of Affairs
A few things about the moderation of usage of social media at the workplace that is figured out by organizations and put into practice:
- Internal company networking sites in lines of social media websites for posting updates that include features of like, share, and comment. Employees receiving awards during award functions are posted on internal sites and they get likes and comments just like social media sites. This has helped employees to quench their thirst for instant gratification using gamification. Yammer is an excellent tool to achieve the same.
- Tools like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Jabber are incorporated to increase communication and collaboration globally.
- The employers themselves have a social presence and now have policies around social media usage during office hours and social media usage in general that defines the nature of company-related posts allowed to be shared on individual social media space, and other things to keep in mind when posting on the company page. These forbid employees to write ill about their employers if they are not writing anything anonymously.
Yammer in Action
Microsoft Teams in Action
The missing piece that matters most.
Social media has developed exponentially and experienced major transitions. It is now an omnipresent thing; social media in the workplace is hence almost unavoidable.
There will always be a few employees who like to while away their time, irrespective of access, or no access to social media at the workplace. Like most things in life, balance is the key, while it is not encouraged that employees should spend the majority of their time on social media however restricting complete access to social media is also not suggested. Rather than asking employees to be less available on social media during work hours, they should be encouraged to use it productively.
Social media has given a voice to employees that might not be heard otherwise. Nipping a problem in the bud before it happens and addressing the problem before real damage is done are few powers social media and technology together can give to organizations.
It is up to organizations to demonstrate and reinforce how social media can benefit employees and organizations as a whole.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Abhijeet Ganguly
Sneha Bhat from India on May 25, 2020:
Nice article sir..
Abhijeet Ganguly (author) from Brampton, Ontario, Canada on February 05, 2012:
Thank you guys for your comments.. I personally believe that social networking sites does adversely affect the employees' productivity.
Marwan Asmar from Amman, Jordan on November 15, 2011:
I think its human nature everywhere, if you allow them to use facebook or or other social networking site, they will. I can't help however and say employers should be somewhat 'flexible'.
TowelBoy on March 09, 2011:
Nooooo.... no 'facebook breaks', no surfing time. Anyone who wants to facebook at work should be fired as soon as possible - they're typically not people who are serious about their work, so best they're exited using a system such as Carlbad or cryptavault to monitor, identify and then fire their a**es!
We're far too soft on employees whose main raison d'etre is to sit at work and steal time from their employer. Whatever happened to a full day's pay for a full day's work? They want the pay, but think they should be allowed to surf half the day!
Meddie on July 08, 2010:
Nice article explaining in detail social networking. Keep up the good work.