Find out how social media platforms affect an employee’s productivity at work.
There are numerous professional opinions on how social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc, affect work productivity. There are those that are pro social media in the workplace but at the same time there are those that are vehemently against. This article aims to find a middle ground between these two extreme opinions by exploring both sides to highlight the role that this growing phenomenon plays in both the professional and personal lives of individuals.
There are several businesses that have blocked employee access to social media in the hope of reducing or eliminating the valuable company time that employees waste, however, research has shown that social media may in fact improve worker productivity. According to a study from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), there is significant value in using social media to enhance communication, share knowledge and improve collaboration within and across an enterprise.
Simply put, if employees access Facebook or Twitter at work, a small amount of time may be lost or wasted, but the overall effect on productivity results in more gains than losses. MGI estimates that by fully implementing social technologies, companies can increase the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals, by 20-25%. The MGI report goes on to say that the correct use of social media technologies could add between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion of value annually to the consumer packaged goods, consumer finance, professional services and advanced manufacturing markets.
These statements are impressive, but will evoke the questions “how?” and “why?”. A study by Evolv, Inc., a data analytics firm, states that employees who use up to four or more social media networks are exceptionally productive and stay in their jobs for longer than those who don’t have access to social media at work. Evolv conducted a study and formulated a survey with over 100 000 responses from call centre agents, and found that employees who belong to more than five social networks have a 1.6% higher sales conversion rate than their counterparts, and a 2.8% lower average call rate.
This identified a possible link between work performance and more sociable employees, who were also more likely to be tech-savvy and efficient in job-related social situations. These employees know how to get what they need, get off the call, and move on, Evolv’s chief analytics officer, Mike Housman, told Inc.com.
According to an article in Psychology Today, critics contend that these hyper-socialisers are serial time-wasters, that the bonds between them are shallow and that their face-to-face interpersonal skills are poor. Several studies have been conducted via surveys, with many of these coming to the same conclusion – that social media hampers employee performance and steals time. However, it is argued that this conclusion is as a result of society separating social interaction from work interaction, seeing them as not only different but in conflict with each other.
Today’s generation of young employees was raised with 24/7 social media access, unlike those from the older generation who were discouraged from mixing private time with work time. The new generation has a gift for multi-tasking and, because they have integrated technology into their lives, their ability to remain connected to each other will serve them and their employers well. It is also argued that the older colleagues may waste time holding meetings or engaging in long phone conversations, while the younger generation has the ability to sum things up in one-sentence text messages.
Another study published by Australian scientists found that taking time to visit websites of personal interest, such as news sites and YouTube, provides workers a mental break that ultimately increased their ability to concentrate and was correlated with a 9% increase in total productivity. To further enhance this point, numerous brain science studies have actually shown that social interaction and the stimulation of emotions are at the core of effective learning, decision-making and long-term memory.
Businesses should therefore be encouraged to see the value of social media interaction and rather attempt to leverage that advantage for business purposes. It is becoming increasingly evident that social media can play a positive role within a company, and that new studies lean towards social media being seen as a positive tool in the workplace as opposed to a time-stealer.
Today’s business world is inundated with fast, instant methods of communication and, as such, both employers and employees will need to adapt to ensure that they stay up to date with an evolving technological realm that exists in the “right now”. Unfortunately, there are those that will abuse the privileges of access to social media, but these have proven to be the exception, and not the norm.