This is the third part of a series. Part 1 and part 2 offer some more insight on how using social media affects time management at work.
Another thing that’s happening is that connected employees are becoming ambassadors for their employers. I understand that some employers might find this frightening, but it is also inevitable. Some companies will worry about the message that their employees are spreading across their social networks and the Internet, and complain about their inability to control it; but others would pay good money for employees who are so engaged that they will work at all hours and act as corporate social media ambassadors at all times.
Maybe you’ve heard about this before, and aren’t convinced. Or maybe you think that Generation Y are a bunch of spoiled kids who just have to learn the old way of doing things. Sure it’s not easy to see the effects of this factor yet, but it’s not hard to imagine, and I think dangerous not to consider it. Would you rather deny your skilled and competitive workers the opportunity to use social networks on company time and risk having their dissatisfaction come back to you down the road; or accept that your workers will find a way to use social media during working hours, and consent, thereby appeasing employees and opening up other opportunities?
My opinion is that allowing (and in some cases encouraging) employees to use social media in the course of their work (within limits) will improve their productivity and morale and create a stronger attachment between employee and employer, making them more likely to stick around and to offer employers their best in terms of labour and ideas.
Writing on Slaw.ca, Steven Matthews points out that the potential for abusing social media at work is clear and present, which could obviously lead to reduced productivity, but the reality of the situation is that if employers give their employees productivity targets, and the employees achieve those targets, there’s not much of a problem. And if employees don’t meet expectations, well, employers all have their own methods for dealing with such workers.
Social media expand definitions of both the workday and work itself, and (okay, one more prediction) it will become increasingly difficult to fit employees’ work into the traditional 9–5, Monday to Friday, structure. For many people, the line between work and leisure will blur, and hopefully that won’t be a bad thing. Social media and its new forms of communication will keep us connected to work, but they can also allow us to arrange our lives in such a way that work and leisure don’t conflict. In this model, the employer that allows its employees the most freedom (while maintaining strict targets for production) could very well end up with the happiest and the most productive workforce, and they will be sure to spread the word.
That sounds a bit weird, but I think it’s probable. What do you think?
And here’s one other thing that employers might not have considered yet: the expanded definitions of workday and work don’t quite fit with existing employment standards law, particularly with respect to hours of work and overtime. You’ve probably heard about the court cases in Canada and the United States in which employees are suing their employers for overtime because the employees find themselves logging extra hours on their Blackberrys away from work. Should employers be calling on their legislatures to address these changes, or should they wait it out to see if things settle down?
Bonus: here’s one take from David Armano at Harvard Business Publishing on where social media will head next year.
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor
Adam Gorley says
More talk about how social networking—mostly text messaging—is affecting the workplace, from the Wall Street Journal.