Social Media in the Workplace: The Good and the Bad

It is quite evident that currently, businesses benefit enormously from having a social media presence. To be able to sustain that social media presence, a company must have employees that know how to use the various platforms that they intend on using. Allowing employees to use social media to positively promote the company they work for but not for personal reasons can be a grey area as some employees report using social media as a way to take a mental break from the stress of their work environment. Walking the line between needing to keep the business represented online on various social platforms but not allowing employees to use them otherwise is something that every company needs to consider carefully.

The use of social media does not necessarily mean that an employee is not productive, as we will see from a study conducted by Evolv. However, it can also be taken too far, as we will see in another research study conducted by Pew Research Center.

How Can People Who Use Social Media Help Your Business?
Evolv interviewed 100,000 employees and out of those working adults, 33,000 were active on between 1 and 4 social media platforms. This is not surprising considering how prevalent social media is in our daily lives. However, the astonishing results were found in the 1,300 employees who reported that they were active on 5 or more social media platforms every day.

Those 1,300 people were studied further and it was found that they had more success in sales and spent less time getting them. Specifically, they had 1.6% higher sales conversions than people who spent less time on social media and they also had 2.8% lower call times, on average.

One of the researchers involved in the study cited three main reasons why these people found so much more success than their colleagues: 1) they were more comfortable in social situations and could take advantage of opportunities when they came up, 2) their multitasking skills were sharper, and 3) they were much more computer and internet literate than others who did not spend as much time on social media.

Is a Social Media in the Workplace Policy Necessary?
In a Pew Research Center study called “Social Media and the Workplace,” it was found that 34% of respondents used social media at work to take a mental break. This was outside of their scheduled breaks or lunch times. In the same survey, 27% of people said that they accessed social media to connect with family and friends, although others in the survey had said they used social media at work to communicate with others at their company.

This can definitely have an effect on overall productivity throughout the day, especially considering that if each employee takes a few minutes several times throughout the day, it can add up to a lot of missed time that the employer is not going to get back.

In a separate survey by Pew Research Center, it was found that 40% of people said they had accessed social media to take a mental break when there wasn’t a social media policy in place for the company when only 30% of people said they had done so when there was a policy in place. If a policy is in place regarding social media use during working hours or on company computers, it does affect how many people access social media just to “take a break.”
Some companies have placed software on their company computers that blocks employees from accessing certain websites, including social media. However, since most people can access these sites from their phones now and most people have their phones with them at all times, the software is an unnecessary expense and usually a hassle as it can block sites that employees do need to have access to as well.

Hiring people who know how to use social media, and know how to use it well, can benefit a company immensely. Not only do those people have skills like multitasking, social awareness, and computer/internet literacy, but they also know how to use social media platforms when promoting the company in a positive light. However, the rampant use of social media during work hours can lead to a decline in productivity among workers. Having a social media policy in place that benefits the company while also allowing the employees to still use it to communicate with other employees or access company pages/groups may be something to think about.

In the meantime, will you be asking your next potential recruit about their social media habits in their interview?