The social factor


Gone are the times when managers could take a snapshot of productivity by listening in on the level of office gossip. Nowadays, there are emails, texts, tweets, and all manner of wonderfully eclectic notifications to think about; making some employers a little mistrustful of what their workforce might be up to. But social media doesn’t necessarily spell the end of hard work ― and not all employees take advantage.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of the employers that we surveyed actually think it’s always ok to use Facebook or other social media sites during lunch breaks; compared to just 16% of workers. And because 22% of people would be put off working for a company where the use of social media was restricted, employers should really be doing more to communicate their approval.

Understandably, most employers will be a little concerned that work will be neglected and productivity will drop if their staff are given free reign of the internet, but they should find relief in the fact that most employees already know the boundaries. In fact, a whopping 60% of employers and 40% employees agree that it’s unacceptable to regularly use Facebook or other social media during office hours.

Managers should also find reassurance in the knowledge that, while 86% of them think it’s occasionally ok to take personal calls at work, just 64% of workers feel the same. And when looking at the average amount of time that employees spend on their own personal emails, phone calls, text messages and social media over the course of a day, close to a third (31%) don’t spend any time at all handling personal matters at work, and over half (55%) spend less than 10 minutes each day dealing with personal messages ― suggesting that employers’ concerns may be ill-founded. 

Of course, employers will always want to set some boundaries for their workforce, but the skill is in striking the right balance: concentrating on restrictions will lower morale, but letting employees know what they can do will make them feel trusted.

And let’s not overlook the huge potential that social media brings: more than half (58%) of 16 to 24 year olds, and more than a third (39%) of 25 to 34 year olds, agree that having access to social media at work increases their effectiveness as an employee. Not to mention the fact that it’s a great promotional tool for any business.

So, while over usage can be counterproductive in a business environment, a little bit of give and take really can work wonders.

Technology is growing, employees’ expectations are evolving, and times are changing ― and if employers are as determined as their workers to stay ahead of the game, they need to move with them.

Download our ahead of the game research on social media at work.