Is Social Media at Work the New Smoke Break?

Is tweeting and posting on Facebook hurting or helping your employees' productivity?
Getting Small Businesses Unstuck, Shafran Moltz Group
February 14, 2013

Is tweeting and posting to Facebook hurting or helping your employees' productivity? Employers think it's hurting, especially in light of studies, like the one from LearnStuff, which reports employees using social media at work cost businesses "$650 billion in loss productivity every year."

With numbers like these, it only makes sense that small-business owners limit their employees' access to the Web—and 30 percent do, according to a recent survey by Salary.com. But does this really boost productivity?

Many employees, especially younger employees of which social media is just a part of life, don't think so. "Those who restrict access are overreacting. This is my generation's version of a cigarette break." writes Alexa Gorman.

Before placing restrictions on social media use at work, consider what the University of Melbourne's Professor Brent Coker found: 70 percent of the people who were allowed to browse the Web for up to 20 percent of their day increased their overall productivity by 9 percent. He says that "Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to reset itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day's work, and as a result, increased productivity."

The small-business owner faces a balancing act. Totally restricting access to social media applications at work will only drive employees to use these applications on their personal cell phones. The small-business owner will never prevent their employees from using social media at work. They need to find out how to harness its energy. This should include:

1. Using social media with a purpose that can also be good for the company. What connections can be made for new vendors, customers or employees with being social?
2. Teaching them how to represent themselves and the company with the highest integrity.
3. Keeping them responsible for getting the daily required results for their particular jobs regardless of the time spent on the web.

The small-business owner will never prevent their employees from using social media at work. They need to find out how to harness its energy. 

Read the full article at Long Island Newsday.

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photo: iStockphoto