are employees “being social” on company time?
back to overviewNew Randstad Work Watch Survey Reveals Social Media Not Widely Used at Work
ATLANTA, 01.05.10 — Worried your employees are spending valuable time Tweeting about their weekend, posting party pictures to Facebook or looking for their next job on LinkedIn? A new Work Watch survey from Randstad, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, finds that social media use at work isn’t as prevalent as might be expected.
Despite growing interest in social media as a business tool to connect with key audiences and build brands, Randstad’s survey reports that 79 percent of respondents never use social media sites while at work. Ten percent say they use social media less than daily, and only 11 percent of respondents use social media networks at least once a day while at work.
“Many companies are conflicted about promoting social media as smart business tools while discouraging employees from using these tools for personal use at work. The lines between personal and professional use are blurring in the workplace,” says Eileen Habelow, senior vice president of organizational development for Randstad US . “Companies need to address how social media can and cannot be used at work so everyone is clear on how and when to use it on company time.”
With the benefits of social media, including market research, reputation management, and customer connectivity, come a variety of legal, security and IT-related concerns. Companies can, however, take steps to strike a balance, including training and educating employees, establishing access protocols and defining appropriate business use.
“A great internal resource that companies can tap into to help figure out their social networking guidelines are with their own employees,” continues Habelow. “Younger generations in particular can be very effective sounding boards and advisors to companies working through the best ways to use social networking.”
The younger workforce tends to more easily use social media. In the survey, 16 percent of Generation Y and 20 percent of Generation X report being more apt to use social media sites at least once a day at work versus Boomers (6 percent) and Matures (1 percent).
By tapping into the expertise of Gen X and Gen Y workers, employers can create natural cross-generational interaction among co-workers that result in knowledge sharing, enhanced skills and a greater sense of camaraderie and morale.
In fact, 17 percent of respondents who use social media at work felt their productivity at work had increased due to social media participation, while only 10 percent felt it had decreased. About one in five users who log in at work (22 percent) say they use social media sites to promote a work-related initiative or event, suggesting that using social media is an integral part of their job and not a productivity drain.
Productivity is an important issue for companies and one reason why some frown on social networking in the workplace. If time is spent updating profiles and “tweeting” about random everyday activities, it’s easy to understand why employers are hesitant. There is also the potential for a negative impact on morale if some employees feel that work isn’t getting done because coworkers are spending too much time on social networking sites.
To help manage these types of potential issues, many employers are setting employee usage policies related to which sites can be accessed and what can and cannot be said or done during business hours. When asked if their employer had a social media policy in place, 22 percent said yes, 19 percent said no and 34 percent were not sure. Twenty-two percent of respondents stated that social media sites are blocked by their employer, while 43 percent said they are not blocked and 35 percent were not sure. Among those that reported their employer had no policy, 90 percent say that there were no plans to implement such a policy in 2010.
To get started in developing a social media policy, consider:
- Which department or position will be responsible for administering the social media policy?
- What will be the policy for how employees portray the company while at work as well as when they are not at work?
- Is every employee permitted to represent the company online?
- How will the policy work with other existing HR policies?
- Will training be required?
- Will social networking at work be restricted to work-related activities only?
- How will social media activities be monitored?
Along with policy setting, companies should consider training
“Employees require clarity on the appropriate use of social networking at work and how best to leverage these tools to increase their own productivity, efficiency, collaboration and creativity,” continues Habelow. “Training can clarify these issues. In addition, companies should make sure HR is ready and able to help implement new social media policies and answer any questions around use.“
Abbreviated Survey Methodology
For the survey, a national sample of 1,005 adults aged 18 and older who are either employed or currently looking for work from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online from November 12 - 16, 2009. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire adult population of adults aged 18 and older who are employed or looking for work in the United States had been polled.