As of 2019, there are an expected 2.77 billion social media users around the globe. This number is ever-increasing — in fact, it is up from 2.46 billion in 2017. There’s no slowing down social media’s progress and yet many employers are putting up a good fight, cracking down on social media use within their organisations. These employers are worried that it will distract employees from their day-to-day functions — while other employers are embracing social media and using it to relate to their employees.
Interestingly, there is growing evidence to suggest that social media can, in fact, boost efficiency and productivity in an office environment. Below, we’ll explore why this is the case, the arguments for implementing a more relaxed attitude towards social media within your organisation and why social media might actually be an underestimated performance management tool.
As mentioned in a previous Social Hire article, social media is being used by savvy managers as a tool to give and receive feedback. This is not only great in terms of employee engagement, but regular feedback is also a huge motivator of good performance. After all, the quicker you can access and process feedback, the faster you can overcome obstacles and get on with the job at hand.
By using social media, employees can easily reach out for help and information on pressing problems, dramatically increasing the odds of completing or progressing on a given project.
Counterproductive though it might sound at first, small, frequent breaks are actually great for productivity levels. Working endlessly on a given task can cause frustration and exhaustion, resulting in a human error or substandard work. However, if employees are allowed to exercise their judgment and take periodic mental breaks away from their work, this can prove enough to refresh and re-energise them, meaning their productivity levels can recover. Social media provides a great five-minute distraction from work wherein employees can catch up with friends (or even watch a cat video or two). One source suggests that when employees can browse social sites at their leisure, their productivity increases by at least 9%.
It might sound like we are advocating letting personal life seep into company life — which actually isn’t such a bad thing. It’s known as work-life integration and it works because modern employees also let work life seep into their private lives. In fact, it’s been shown that most employees check their work emails from home. These days, the barriers between work and life are coming down. Employees don’t want a clear distinction between these two important areas of their lives — they want to integrate them and this improves performance and productivity in the long run.
You might be aware of the importance of employee morale, but did you know that according to a research study by the University of California Irvine, in conjunction with Microsoft, employees who use social media during office hours report a huge boost in morale? Employees love to be permitted a degree of freedom and autonomy. They also enjoy being trusted. Ease up on social media restrictions, show your employees you trust them and they will reward you with greater levels of performance. After all, employees want to remain at companies who trust them and who treat them like adults.
There is an interesting positive correlation that exists between workplace friendships, productivity and company loyalty. Research has shown that having a friend at work can make you feel happier, more engaged and more productive. It also increases discretionary effort. Furthermore, research has revealed 82% of employees believe social media can improve work relationships.
Social media serves as a means of connecting people and drawing them together, resulting in a sense of belonging. When employees feel they are an accepted part of a workplace and that they have meaningful relationships at their organisation, they are more inclined to stay and to perform well.
Social media can help improve teamwork and collaboration by keeping employees in the loop, breaking down barriers and making them feel valued. This improved communication and sense of cooperation help to create a collaborative environment, rather than a competitive atmosphere, and it’s been shown that collaboration actually drives workplace performance.
About the Author: Stuart Hearn is a leading specialist in performance management for SMEs who constantly has his finger on the pulse of industry trends. Stuart has been working in the HR sector for over 20 years, previously working for Sony and now Founder and CEO of Clear Review, a performance management software business.
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