Give your employees freedom to use social media and boost overall productivity.
The most successful businesses around the world have noticeably prosperous workplace cultures. While no two are the same, the technological renaissance of recent times has implemented certain social habits that transcend barriers created by language, borders, demographics and other such distinctions. Such is the case with Facebook, which is present in almost every workplace around the world.
A number of high-level corporate executives and managers are concerned about the place of social media platforms in the office. Popular platforms like Facebook certainly can be a detriment to productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Ultimately, it is a social network, meaning that Facebook encounters a high opportunity cost in the office. Some companies ban social media in the office, while others remain oblivious. Administering managerial methods in extremes is never the right answer. The key is to understand the role that networks like Facebook play beyond the office, and promote a balanced policy that is mutually beneficial for your business and employees.
Social media is very useful for networking, which is great for business. It’s also very useful for wasting time, which is bad for business. The possibility of both is what concerns a company’s workplace culture, in regards to levels of employee productivity, efficiency, engagement, focus and even mood. Banning social media platforms, in an attempt to give employees no option but to work all day, is almost as bad as giving them free reign with no supervision. Many studies address this tradeoff and offer alternate perspectives for the corporate world and its negative sentiments toward social media. The key to implementing a social media policy that strengthens these critical variables is balance, and this harmony has two facets.
Your employees aren't robots
The economic concept of diminishing marginal productivity explains that employee focus and efficiency will naturally decline over time. Eventually, employees will yield no output and require an intermission. Leisurely breaks that exercise different parts of the brain serve to restore the brain’s productivity. More important is the understanding that each employee operates differently, and effective leaders should be flexible in order to optimize their workforce.
The prevalence of social media in all areas of society is a clear sign of the need to prioritize its application in the office. By granting employees the freedom to take breaks as needed, and encouraging them to fill these breaks with (non-intrusive) activities that satisfy and replenish their productivity best, leaders can use social media as a tool for effective management. The second prong of the role of social media in the culture of an office is more delicate.
The leaders of tomorrow are digitally indigenous
Social media is a relatively new way for people to fulfill a basic psychological need: to socially connect. In a few short decades, a majority of the world’s workforce will be younger than Facebook. Early research suggests that social media is already fundamentally changing our psycho-social needs, and younger employees are especially prone. The mental well-being of employees is a prerequisite to their value and productivity.
Businesses will benefit greatly from being proactive and addressing the psychological needs of their workforce. A good place to start is to gauge the usage of social media for each individual within a company. Understanding the dynamics of what social media is used for in your office is critical in implementing policies that support growth and prosperity for your business and employees.
A balanced, flexible policy is key
Currently, insight into the effects and long-term implications of social media is limited, but balancing social media in the office is critical. Office managers have to stay focused and acutely aware of each employee’s usage of social media platforms.
Live by the sword — die by the sword
Through workplace culture, the reasons that social media can play an elementary role in enormous success are the same ones that can result in a business’s crippling failure. Here are a few potential pros and cons to remember when walking the social media tightrope:
- Increased employee engagement
- Increased productivity
- Lower operational costs
- Efficient communications and information gathering
- Decrease in productivity
- Exposure of sensitive company material
- Adverse impressions towards company
Banning social media in the workplace, like a large number of companies currently do, does eliminate the risks that social media presents. However, this route presents a huge cost. Removing a socially popular tool that simultaneously is seen to have a significant effect on mental health means a disengaged and dysfunctional workplace culture.
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