Tag Archives: employee morale

Social Media in the Workplace

In a recent report, it was estimated that workers spent an average of 7.5 hours during the week on social media…and that was just time spent during the work day.

7.5 hours is a full work day, which means that employers are losing out on 1.5 hours a day of productivity from their employees.

The most popular times for checking out social networks at work were between 10-11 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.

“Particularly for those with office-based jobs, it’s not difficult to see why they might get tempted to access their social network profiles when they should be working. Especially with the introduction of things like Tweet Deck and Facebook’s push notifications, it’s actually harder than ever to switch off,” said George Charles, marketing director at VoucherCodesPro.

Recent trends show that more than half of US employers are blocking social media access at the workplace. A variety of fears have led to this, led by certainty that time spent on Facebook or Twitter is productivity the company can never get back.

By implementing a complete block of social media, leaders and managers are able to rest easy, secure in the knowledge that their employees are spending their time doing the work for which they’re being paid, right?

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is…

  • Blocking social media access is a costly exercise that simply doesn’t work.
  • Employee use of social media in the workplace doesn’t necessarily adversely affect productivity.
  • There are distinct advantages to allowing — and even encouraging — employees to use social media sites while at work.
  • The future of business is a networked future. Employers who figure out the right balance will be more competitive. Those that don’t will be left behind.

The Futility of Blocking

Do you have a smart phone? An iPhone, an Android, or any of the dozens of other models available? You can surf the Web, access social networks, send and receive messages on Twitter and engage in all kinds of other online activities. So can your employees.

Blocking access to social sites via your company networks won’t stop most employees from engaging in the same behavior the blocks were designed to prevent.  It is often counterproductive, with the time employees spend finding a way to the sites they want to visit being more time-consuming than actually visiting the sites.

Productivity Trends Tell the Story

If worker productivity is at an all-time low, why do US Department of Labor statistics paint a different picture in which productivity continues to rise?

The answer is simple. Productivity is not a measure of the time employees spend at work engaged in non-work activities. It’s a measure of output. And the use of social media can actually help increase employee output.

A study conducted at the University of Melbourne found that employees with access to social networks were actually more productive than employees in companies that block access. According to Dr. Brent Coker, employees who can reward themselves between the completion of one task and the start of another with a visit to their Facebook page are more invigorated and get more done. According to the study, they get 9 percent more accomplished than their blocked counterparts.

Getting to the Crux of the Matter

There will always be employees who waste time. There always have been, long before computers were introduced to the workplace. Addressing this problem is a management issue, not a technological one.

There’s more to the productivity issue, though. Among workers, the fact that they are networked means they can work anywhere. Think about it. Do you check your email on your mobile phone as soon as you get up? That’s a work-related activity at home. Employees review reports while at their kids’ soccer games. They take overseas calls after dinner. They draft reports before bed.

How many of your employees arrive at 9 and leave at 5? An employee who arrives at 7:30 a.m. and leaves at 6:30 p.m. can spend two hours on Facebook and still put in a solid eight hours of work — plus the time they spend working when they’re away from the office.

It’s also worth remembering that the same productivity paranoia was raised over the telephone and email.

Blocking social media is now considered quite an antiquated idea.  The crux of the matter comes down to whether you’ve hired good employees or not.  If you have a hardworking employee, they are going to work hard for you. If you’ve hired a time-waster, then they will waste time no matter if social media is available or not.

To Telecommute or Not to Telecommute?

In today’s job market, offering a telecommuting option can be very attractive to job applicants.  In fact, when searching for and applying for a job online, many prospective employees will search for a position that offers telecommuting.

Seriously, what could be better than staying in your jammies and working from the comfort of your own home?

Well, if you listen to Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, working from the office is much better than working from home – and what’s more surprising – many others agree.

When Yahoo’s relatively new CEO Marissa Mayer decreed that workers would be required to show up at the office rather than work remotely, the immediate backlash from outsiders was mostly on the side of the angry Yahoo employees who were losing the comfort and convenience of telecommuting. Inside the company, reactions were mixed.

Mayer may have been extreme in her demands for face time at the office, but it’s the right call for a leader who is working to turn around one of the former king’s of the Internet.

Yahoo is famous for having bungled its position as a one-time Internet leader. Mayer was brought on specifically to revitalize the company after a series of lackluster leaders.  All the while, Yahoo has been a company in search of a direction.

In a memo to Yahoo employees about the policy, the head of Yahoo’s HR said, “personal interaction is still the most effective way of conveying a company’s direction, and keeping tabs on what different parts of the organization are up to.”

What do in-person meetings accomplish that e-mail can’t? Part of the answer lies in time use surveys of CEOs that go back nearly 40 years.

Management scholar Henry Mintzberg was among the first to track how top managers spend their time in the early 1970s. Much to his surprise, he found that around 80% of their time was spent in face-to-face meetings; the subjects of his study had few stretches of more than 10 minutes at a time to themselves.

More recent time use studies by researchers at Harvard, the London School of Economics and Columbia have found that little has changed. Despite the IT revolution, business leaders still spend 80% of their time in face-to-face meetings.

The reason is that there’s only so much that one can glean from a written report or a spreadsheet. To cut through the hidden agendas, and office politics, most of the time you need to look someone in the eye and ask them, “Really? How exactly would that work?” It is this probing and questioning that allows effective managers to gather the scraps of information needed to understand what’s really going on.

Similarly, all the way down the organizational chart, person-to-person interactions are crucial to ensure that an organization’s change of direction isn’t misrepresented or garbled in its retelling.

As one of our friends who runs a virtual workplace puts it, “with e-mail exchanges alone, everyone starts to get a bit paranoid.”

The Yahoo memo notes that it’s hard to innovate via e-mail exchanges or the occasional agenda-filled meeting. New ideas spring up through chance encounters in the cafeteria line and impromptu office meetings. It’s an assertion that’s backed up by academic research highlighting the importance of physical proximity in driving scientific progress.

In one study of telecommuting at a Chinese online travel agency, customer-service reps were both happier and more productive when working from home — probably Yahoo service reps aren’t any different from their Chinese counterparts in this regard. And every Yahoo employee surely has some aspects of their jobs that could be done just as well at the kitchen table as in an office cubicle.

But it’s hard to create a norm of “physically together” if the office is always half-empty. And once it becomes that way, the half that have been showing up will be less and less inclined to bother. Finally, such a shocking and provocative directive will most certainly have the effect of imbuing the organization with the sense of urgency it needs to get the job done.

Will Yahoo employees come around to appreciating the change? Not necessarily the ones that liked to sleep in or work on a startup on Yahoo’s dime, but it may be welcomed by the ones already showing up. Will it be damaging to morale? Possibly, though it may help Yahoo employees to remember that, if they’re successful, the change is likely to be temporary.

But the job of the CEO isn’t to maximize worker happiness. It’s to make sure they get their jobs done. And in driving change at Yahoo, Mayer thinks they need to show up at the office.

When considering your office policy on telecommuting, you may want to offer just one day a week or a 50/50 time split so that you have that prime face to face contact time, as well of offering a perk to potential employees.

-Today’s blog post was inspired from:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/26/opinion/fisman-yahoo/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

To Party or Not to Party?

As Christmas approaches, many employers have a hard time deciding how to appropriately thank and honor their employees, in a budget-conscious way of course!

Many employees have recently reported that the annual Christmas party has been given the ax…much to their relief and happiness.

Christmas parties can be morale boosting experiences, or they can be pure torture.  Plan it well and it will serve to benefit your business and keep your employees happy.  If the Christmas party is an unbreakable tradition, then at least keep it appropriate by inviting spouses or even making it a family experience.

One employee recalls year after year of watching her married CEO get plastered at the annual Christmas party and then proceed to hit on his female employees with reckless abandon.

So if you do cancel the company Christmas party, or even if you still have a party, there is still the question of what to get the employees for Christmas.

Clarence Darrow wrote a response to a similar question by simply stating, “My dear woman, … ever since the Phoenicians invented money there has been only one answer to that question.”

In a recent survey, employees overwhelmingly favored getting cash for Christmas than having a party or receiving any other kind of gift.

Cash can seem a very cold way to tell someone thank you, so if you go this route, be sure to make it personal.  Write out a card.  Tell the employee what you appreciate about them.  Cite specific examples of how they benefited the company in the past year.

Christmas should be a warm, happy time and your words of appreciation and praise will go a lot further to ensure employee happiness than any amount of cash ever will.