Social Media & Employee Productivity


When I think about the way that I use social media to collaborate, I automatically focus on the tremendous benefits it has for my business.  I’d like to think that I manage my time very well during the day to accomplish many goals, whether they are related to my agency Mango!, client work, my writing projects, speaking engagements, PR 2.0 training sessions or helping people with PR questions in my communities.  No matter how many goals I set and need to achieve in a given timeframe, I’m still really active in my favorite networks.  Why? Social media helps me with the incredible knowledge and information that I need to stay on top of my industry and client industries too. It provides with an abundance of research I need for my writing projects and presentations. I really enjoy building relationships in my communities whether it’s my own blog or Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.  Social media is also my coffee break and sometimes my lunch.

If social media brings so much value, and I do see value through measurement, then why is it that some company owners, executives and/or supervisors get a slight feeling of unease when they see an employee participating in a social network during the work day.  I can admit that I’ve had, on occasion, a little angst over social networking and my staff, but only for the right reasons.

What are the right reasons? First off, as you read this, please try to keep in mind that every employee is different.  The goals for one employee do not necessarily meet the goals of another.  When we evaluate someone’s activities or performance, we should be basing our reviews on whether people are reaching their goals or if they are able to complete their work in a timely, satisfactory and of course, cost effective manner.

In the past, when I notice that employees are active participants in web communities during the day, my first instinct is that they are working and using social networking to help our Mango! community grow.  However, sometimes the social networking is constant, and it’s clear to see that the participation is not being used for knowledge or information for Mango!, I can then assess the situation and ask myself, “Is this employee completing work/assignments on time in a satisfactory manner or better?”  If the answer is yes, then social networking is helping this employee to break up the monotony or craziness of the day and keep this person happy.

The next scenario is the problem. When employees are spending a lot of time social networking and there is no connection to the company and their work is not satisfactory, then this is the reason for the angst and you would have every right to feel this way.

I’m all for communication during the scope of our days.  I’m very supportive of social networking and participating with meaning in communities.  I firmly believe this type of interaction can have many positive effects on a business.   If your employees are working hard and delivering results for the company, then it shouldn’t matter if they are visiting their social networking sites while they are at work.

Of course, there is a fine line that you cannot cross.  As an employee you can’t decide to social network all day and then complete you’re work at night, if your clients need attention during the day.  That approach leaves clients feeling neglected and clearly doesn’t work.  I’m familiar with this scenario too. In any case, I’ll continue to be fully supportive of social networking, as long as I see productivity and goals being reached for individual employees.  After all, employees were finding other ways to communicate during the day, pre-social media. As long as their work didn’t suffer, I was always the happy business owner and boss.

Here are some other posts related to Social Media and Productivity.  Let me know what you think about employees participating in social networks during the day.  As an owner, executive, supervisor or even co-worker, does it cause you any angst?

BurrellesLuce

How Stuff Works

John R. Durant’s Blog

MarketingProfs Daily Fix

SocialMediaToday

Wired Magazine


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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Edward04 says:

    I love your enlightened approach, which is empowering and trusting. I wonder how many companies share this view, not simply due to concerns relating to customer focus and goals being reached, but through the potential reputational issues. Do employees who engage in social media during the workplace always think that whatever they say in the public social media domain will potentially reflect on their employer? Does their employer feel happy with that? I would love to know what the most successful companies’ policy is with regard to employees using social media during their workplace. I recently read that the employees are Ryanair HQ in Dublin were only allowed access to the interet for private purposes during the lunchbreak. Hardly enlightened, but Ryanair is a mightly successful company. Love to hear others views

  2. Deirdre says:

    Hello Edward! Thank you for sharing your thought about social media and employee productivity. It’s so easy for me because I own a small company. But, some of the largest brands in the world are finding success through employee engagement and feel very comfortable about how employees are representing their brands. One very good example comes to mind, which is IBM. IBM completed a study about its employee engagement in the social sphere and the results showed that the closer customers felt to employees the closer they felt to the IBM brand. IBM has many social networks both internal and external, and, of course, their social media initiative is framed by their policies. What I can appreciate about IBM is that they have over 380.000 employees worldwide and have a very successful social media communications program. Employees are given the tools, empowerment and trust that they need (framed with good guidelines) and it shows in the thousands of employees who participate. This is such an interesting topic. I hope that other good examples surface on social networking and employees productivity.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by dbreakenridge: Social Media & Employee Productivity http://goo.gl/fb/39Sc4

  4. Interesting post. Def agree that things are more easily monitored in smaller shops.

    I had more of a question than a comment:

    In larger firms, is there is any correlation between the external usage of social media and internal policy re employee social media usage?

    That is to say, are firms that get results from social media in terms of interactions with customers also the ones with the most enlightened internal policies about employee use?

    My guess would be yes. But I bet there are some interesting exceptions where players who are great with customers have a relatively draconian approach with their own employees.

  5. Deirdre says:

    Hi Jackson! Thanks for asking your question. I don’t have any statistics but my guess would be yes too. Something tells me that successful social media is framed by some sort of policies/guidelines. However these guidelines vary depending on the company. I know some very large companies with two page policies and then there are others with 20 pages. It would be really interesting if a study was conducted to see if enlightened internal policies positively effect employee use. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. [...] Social Media & Employee Productivity Published: April 2, 2010 Source: Deirdre Breakenridge When I think about the way that I use social media to collaborate, I automatically focus on the tremendous benefits it has for my business. I’d like to think that I manage my time very well during the day t… [...]

  7. [...] Social Media & Employee Productivity | Deirdre Breakenridge – [...]

  8. Alice says:

    I recently read a statistic that 57% of business professionals in the UK admit to using twitter during work hours. I think using social networks during business hours depends on the business. In my case, it’s part of my job. I think services like twitter and LinkedIn can increase productivity within companies if used effectively.

  9. Deirdre says:

    Hi Alice! Yes, I agree that Twitter and LinkedIn can increase productivity within companies. Of course, these networks have to be used effectively. I think that if a company really takes the time listen to conversations, in any social network, there is an opportunity to create awareness, participation, endorsements and followers/friends that convert to customers. At first we saw so many consumer brands on MySpace and Facebook, but now B2B companies are taking advantage of social networking, even to the extent that they recruiting through these channels. I think we will see more companies finding value, especially as we measure more closely to show the value of participation.

  10. Deirdre, I think this post was fascinating about whether or not employees should use social media at their employment. I can go on my experience with social media. While I am using it I get addicted to it, but I never had a real job where I am sitting at a computer, so I don’t know if it would hurt my productivity if I am actually engage in a job assignment that I have to complete. With my experience of using social media while doing homework, I complete it slower, but I do finish it, so I don’t know if social media is that bad.

    Thank You
    Trent Callier

  11. [...] I think this post was fascinating about whether or not employees should use social media at their employment.  I can go on my experience with social media.  While I am using it I get addicted to it, but I [...]

  12. Deirdre says:

    Hi Trent! You make an interesting point that social media may slow your progress to completing your assignment. I think this happens a lot. However, I find in the work environment, when you are with your peers and/or your supervisors working alongside, you will probably be using social media to complete your projects, on time and and more efficiently. I find that I’m much more productive in the work environment as I work with different groups on projects. I guess because you are all rallying around the success of your project. Deadlines are set and somehow at home we are less driven and go at a different pace than a busy office. Either way, as long as you finish your work before the deadline then you’re in good shape :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on employees and the use of social media.

  13. Anthony Vives says:

    I agree with you Deirdre, in my opinion all employee should be able to access to any internet content. People must have some personal time in the office to invest in any activity that they need or like to get more relaxed. This was an eternal discussion in my previous company, and for this reason, in my current one we have installed a monitoring tool that helps people to control this personal time at the same time that shows to their managers that they are accomplishing with the expectations. Is like to discover the wheel again :-) I recommend this one: http://www.workmeter.com but probably there are others…

  14. Deirdre says:

    Hi Anthony, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic. I also think that companies have to realize that as a part of social media communications, they will need to have certain groups active on platforms, i.e. customer service on Twitter and sales teams on LinkedIn. And, if your brand is out there having conversations then the PR team will definitely be more active. The monitoring is so important and it will tell us if the time spent is productive or not and the nature of the conversations right down to the sentiment. Glad you like the strategy wheel! Thanks again.

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