Are Your Employees Becoming Too Social?

Do you worry about your employees wasting their time on social media while on the job? You’re not alone. Many employers are concerned about the role social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest play in slacking off while on the job.

social_istock_000013528921xsmall1Research by Salary.com shows that 41% of employees spend time on Facebook every day with other social networks such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter also getting a mention. So just how much time is this wasting, and what is the best approach to help stem the amount of work hours lost to the pull of social media? The answers may surprise you.

Heavy-Handed Approach Isn’t the Answer

Salary.com found that 21% of employees admitted to spending up to five hours per week on social media. For a company with 100 employees that’s more than 5,000 hours of work time lost each year, or more than $36,000 dollars if you’re paying minimum wage. It’s understandable that if your employees are wasting time on social media, your reaction is to put a stop to the problem.

If things are out of control and you need to get a better sense of what is going on, there’s no doubt that blocking sites like Facebook can seem attractive, and in fact you could pop along to any major retailer like Walmart and find a security camera to help you keep a closer eye on your employees. But is that really the best way?

To really get a handle on your social media problem, you need to understand why your employees are wasting so much time, and what you can do about it in collaboration with them instead of by fighting against them.

During their survey, Salary.com discovered that employees waste time because they aren’t challenged, because they’re bored or unsatisfied with work, or because they lack an incentive to work harder or are struggling with long hours.

To tackle time being wasted on social media, you need to tackle the underlying issues. Once you do that, you might find that social media can in fact be your ally.

Tackling the Underlying Issues

If you want your employees to waste less time on social media, the answer is to tackle the underlying problems.

Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Get to know your employees – Talk to them, take surveys, discuss their needs and get a feel for what they would like to change and what would help to motivate them;
  • Cut down on meetings. Long meetings add to boredom and surreptitious social media checking. Streamline meetings to make sure they’re genuinely helpful and consider having no-meeting days;
  • Consider flexibility – If your employees are overworked or overstressed, they won’t be productive and will be more likely to turn to social media. Can you introduce working from home or more flexible hours to help your employees work better and smarter?
  • Co-create an internet policy – Having a policy will help everyone to know what is expected of them, but don’t design it and demand adherence. Instead, create it in collaboration with your employees so you can come up with something that you all benefit from;
  • Find ways to motivate your employees – From varied tasks to a new challenge that suits their capabilities, to rewards for goals reached, make sure your employees have reasons to get off social media and engage with their job.

Social Media Breaks Can Actually Benefit Your Business

It’s easy to start seeing social media as your enemy, but in fact in moderation a little social media can be your friend.

Of course if you’re using social media to promote your business it has many benefits, but what about employees checking their personal profiles? How can that help your business?

Corporate wellness experts Keas conducted research into the use of social media at work, and the results were surprising: Employees who took breaks to use Facebook were 16% more productive than employees who took breaks without social media, and 39% more productive than those who didn’t take breaks at all. How can that be so? The answer is simple.

A short break, such as quick surfing on the internet, gives employees a chance to connect with the outside world and have a short rest. Its stress relief, pure and simple, acting as a mental refresher and making it easier to concentrate again afterwards.

Being open to social media within reason can foster more connections and friendships within your business, leading to a happier team, and showing you to be flexible and in touch with the way your employees choose to communicate.

Instead of fighting social media in the workplace, take a measured and sensible approach; your employees will thank you and you may even see a rise in productivity.

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as employee satisfaction, marketing, social media, and SEO.