Social Media and The Impacts on Employee Productivity

Although many companies are utilizing social media tools to leverage their brand, interact with customers and employees, many employers worry that the use of social media by employees can significantly hinder productivity within the company.

In this article, two executives from two different companies express their opinions about the role of social media in the workplace and the potential impact on workplace productivity.

On the one hand, you have the camp that believes any time spent on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is quite simply time not spent on work, thus hindering workplace productivity. Many companies that employ this belief think that the solution to this problem is to restrict access to these sites within the company. On the other hand, you have the camp that believes that the use of social media can actually enhance worker productivity through enhanced collaboration and that embracing a flexibile work environment will allow companies to get more out of their employees in the long run.

Is it reasonable to expect that every minute of an employee’s time at the work place is going to be 100% devoted to “work”? It’s human nature for people to look for distractions and outlets during the workday in order to give the brain the breaks it needs to continue working efficiently. Regardless if social media is accessible at the workplace, people are still going to pursue these outlets, whether in the form of a casual conversation with a colleague or a walk outside the office for some fresh air. At the end of the day, employees are expected to complete certain day-to-day tasks and meet the expected production levels put in place by their managers. Managers should be focusing on the production and overall performance level of their employees.

Looking at your own individual work environments, do you think many employees spend an excessive amount of time using social media for personal purposes? Do you think if these sites were unavailable, that more of this time would be devoted to work-related tasks, or would it be spent on other distractions? Do you think your company is receiving the expected level of production out of most of its employees on a day-to-day basis?


7 thoughts on “Social Media and The Impacts on Employee Productivity

  1. I plead guilty – I spend significant time at work on social media networks; however, it also is a part of my job in PR to be aware of how my clients, competitors and its target audience are using social media to gather industry insights and remain relevant. Even for people not in this type of industry, they can turn to Twitter and other networks as a “news source” to gather information in a quick, convenient manner, especially if they don’t have time to read the paper that day. Lastly, I believe in today’s competitive environment that everyone’s priority is or should be to do what is expected of them at work, adhere to deadlines, etc. and therefore, I don’t feel that someone would be busy looking at pics from the weekend on FB rather than concentrating on a major work initiatives. If they do have free time, even without social media being available, I do believe they will turn to other distractions anyway. It’s definitely more an asset than a distraction.

  2. I remember when social media game became a fad, a lot of companies in China prohibited the access to those social media platform to prevent employees spending too much time on it. I think whether employees are allowed to use social media at the work place depends on the corporate environment. For companies like Google, I believe using social media at work is even encouraged. My opinion about this is that there is no fault for employees to spend some time on social media at work as long as they can finish their daily task in time. If the access to social media is banned, I don’t think people will devote those time entirely to work. People need break time and social media is a way to pass break time.

  3. I am definitely guilty of using social media at the work place but all of my friends do too. i couldn’t name 5 people right now that i know closely who do not use social media at some point in their work day. I think it has become a source of information that is vital to a lot of industries in keeping up with client/competitor trends or moves. I also think that social media provides a quick way for employees to see breaking news and to stay up to do date with what is going on outside of their office. Instead of sitting at their desk reading the newspaper or even reading lengthy online articles, employees can just log into Twitter or FB and quickly see short blurbs on an important topic in the days’ news. I also think as more and more studies are released about needing a break in the work day, social media has provided this break in a positive way.I also agree that Managers should measure productivity about how much gets done and the quality of that work rather than how and when its getting done.

  4. The company I work for does allow us to access social media websites and I think it is the right decision. We all have work tasks and deadlines we work hard to get done, but we all have a need to have a few distractions during the day. If we only focused on work-related tasks we would burn ourselves out. I think my colleagues spend the appropriate amount of time on these sites and I firmly believe if Facebook and Twitter were restricted that the time we would spend on those sites would still be used for another distraction. If social media was restricted in my office I would probably take a bathroom/coffee break, use my phone, or go for lunch. I think a flexible work environment is more productive because it doesn’t restrict employees which can cause a negative reaction from employees. That’s not to say we aren’t all responsible for getting are work down in the appropriate amount of time, so spending all say on these sites is not recommended.

  5. I think blocking social media sites would not result in higher productivity. People still would find other distractions and would access social media from their phones. As long as they don’t spend too much time on different sites and complete their work, I think it’s OK. Everyone needs to take breaks.

  6. I think if companies block social media usage employees will find another way to connect to these platforms, either by using their mobile devices or their tablets. Also, in my opinion it would have a negative impact on the employer brand of that company since it would reveal a culture of mistrust. I think employees are able to manage their time and workload in a responsible way by meeting the set deadlines, so they should also be able to use social media in their breaks. However, I can also imagine that employees nowadays spend more time on their breaks due to the use of social media than a few years ago. Nevertheless, the main question is whether they still manage to complete their given tasks or if they just stay longer at work.

    • Like Katrin, and many of the other commenters here, I agree that companies should continue to allow their employees to access social media sites. Other than for work-related reasons, companies give their employees access to Internet sites so that their daily lives are not interfered with – so that when they come to work, they are not locked up in a prison in which they have no access to the outside world. This is why many work places have kitchens with TVs running CNN or ESPN, and magazines/newspapers are placed in various break areas. Having access to social media sites does not interfere with the employee’s work, as long as that employee is responsible him or herself. So the real issue for employers is not whether social media sites is a distraction, but whether their employees are all-in-all good, hard-working and responsible employees.

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