Productivity and Social Media

You know, the amount of times I hear organisational managers say that they have banned Social Media in the workplace still astounds me. I know there are various reasons for it; the main argument usually is about productivity and how badly it is affected if managers and organisations let their staff use Facebook or Twitter during the course of their business day.

I think productivity is one of those innate blessings. Either you are or you aren’t – and any number of “tools” or applications available will make no difference to the most productive of your staff. Of course it will have an impact on the least productive of your staff, but they don’t need Social Media to distract them from their work, any old thing will do!

It’s important that we debunk the myth that Social Media in the workplace reduces productivity. As a HR and Business Manager, I have seen productivity in all its forms. I have had many staff who would use any opportunity or any excuse to be unproductive. I once had a staff member try and take the company car to the shop to buy everyone coffee because it was “smoko” – the 15 minute morning tea break. The fact that it took him 30 minutes to drive there, buy the things, bring them back and socialise was lost on him!

It is our jobs as people managers to “manage” this behaviour; recognise it and call it for what it is. Preventing access to Social Media sites in the workplace can send a message that you may not be keen to listen to your staff, or keen to hear what conversations are going on around your business. It can also indicate that you don’t trust them to be productive, and probably means that you, as manager and leader don’t understand Social Media (which of course may very well be true!)

It is far too easy to assume the worst of someone and punish everyone for the sins of a few lazy team members, but most people want to do a good job; most people want to be responsible and make a good impression.

The introduction of a Social Media platform into your business could increase productivity, increase revenue and certainly retain customers. Like anything, the introduction of Social Media into the business could be done by a trial, and could be done with some fun, so that everyone can learn at the same pace, or at least at the same time.

Great research has been done on the positive effect of fun in the workplace, you only need look as far as Google to see how they are revered as an appealing place to work. Why not make the introduction of Social Media a fun project and assign tasks to people to create the accounts, write content, take photos and generally allow their creativity to influence the way you do business.

I am sure as a manager of people, you know who the un-productive members of your staff are already, why not use them as leaders in a project to devise the guidelines of how you manage your Social Media policy in the workplace? Like any policy, without guidelines or standards it will be pushed to the limits very quickly!

So, are your staff un-productive already? If they are, then take the opportunity to have a conversation with them about that, set some standards on what you expect if you haven’t already and start measuring them. Once you decide that the organisation would like to be part of this irresistible Social Media wave, then the unproductive ones will already have a clear message that what they are doing is being watched. It isn’t Social Media that you need to pay attention to, it is your people; how they contribute, how they are measured and then how they can positively influence the communication within your organisation. People really are creative and when given the opportunity, will give you all the answers and ideas you want.

10 thoughts on “Productivity and Social Media

  1. Fantastic post Sharon. I agree that social media can be very useful in the working environment. I’ve been using Facebook to great effect in my work helping to set up a conflict resolution project. I’ve recruited supporters, students, contributors and provoked political debate. To keep people out of the loop while at work is to cut off all the opportunities that reside in the online environment. Finding a way to encourage the use of social media for business benefits is the key to making it work for everyone. I think you’re spot on!


  2. I must admit, before I became a Life Coach I was Head of Trade Marketing at a international FMGC and every time I walked into the office and I saw a member of staff playing around on Facebook I wasn’t really happy. Shouldn’t they be working in ‘MY’ time and play in their own free time?
    But then I realised that they actually felt ‘busted’ when I ‘caught’ them. They didn’t want me, their manager, to see that they where uploading pics and Tweeting about the weekend…. Guilt? Plain fear? Scared for the consequences?
    Gosh, that is not how I wanted my staff to feel… Or myself for that matter, when I was calling the dentist during work time and chatting to my friend who lives a 9 hour time difference away and can only be reached during working hours. I’d like to feel FREE and TRUSTED. And I’d like my staff to feel like that as well. So I changed. And believe me, they changed as well. Things that are not forbidden are so much less interesting anyway.
    It’s good to know that expert on Social Media, like Sharon here, spread this message to all those fear based working environments out there. Start TRUSTING, be and allow others to be FREE 🙂


  3. You are espousing that some managers should think for themselves Sharon; think outside the box and trust their employees! That’s a dangerous concept for quite a lot of managers; particularly those in the organisation I work for. Fantastic blog – great topic. Look forward to reading more. Keith from Australia.


    1. Hi Keith,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts. Yes, I agree it is a very dangerous concept, and when I am dealing with clients I make sure they understand that companies need to be open to communication, and open to learning from their employees – and that it is a brave organisation that takes this on. It usually always leads to change of some kind as well, which makes for other interesting dynamics! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for taking the time to respond!


  4. Hey Sharon – great read, I so agree about the fear factor. The other issue I keep coming across as a marketer encouraging SM as a business strategy is the resource issue. Managers agreeing they need to be involved but just don’t have the resource/time in already overstretched workforces. In an ideal world – stage right: enter the consultant!
    Talk soon S


  5. Just found your blog. Great post. I worked in Merton Council a while ago and the chief exec blogged and encouraged people to experiment with technologies. He said he knew there would be people who would waste time but he didn’t want to block up the windows for everyone else. It definitely improved staff morale among those that were interested.


    1. Thanks Orla, I appreciate the comment. What a visionary guy, well done to him! It is great to work with those people, and in Social Media at the moment, there are a few, but we need to do more educating!!


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