Take some time to read through this scenario: You are visiting an organization on appointment. After exchanging pleasantries with the receptionist at the front desk, you informed her of your mission. She responded grudgingly while paying scant attention to you as she seamlessly returned to what she was doing before you interrupted her. Curious, you wondered what could have consumed her thoughts so deeply, only to discover that she was lost in her own world of social media apps.
Has this ever happened to you? How did you or how will you handle it? For all intents and purposes, social media is a two-edged sword. On one hand, it is a tool that has enhanced information dissemination and social engagement at the swipe of your fingers. Social media has become a new trend in the workplace that cannot be ignored due to its numerous advantages, from analyzing potential employees’ profiles to promoting a business and encouraging interaction between employees. Most Social Media platforms offer free advertising and other benefits for companies both big and small scale.
On the other hand, it is a syndrome that has eaten deep into daily routines, thus hampering productivity, and ultimately, returns on investment (ROI) due to time theft. It is often said that “Time waits for no one and a lost time can never be bought or brought back”. According to a study by Nucleus Research, companies that allow employees use social media during the work day lose 1.5 percent productivity.
“Most employees check their “inboxes” too often, constantly interrupting their work. Employees estimate that they spend about 4 hours a day (half a workday) managing multiple “inboxes.” The time spent on social media however is spent more for personal reasons than work reasons, with only 6.8% of the participants indicating that they use social media solely for work purposes. The study suggests that social media on platforms such as Facebook have “shattered the divide between business and personal use” and often encourage such intermingling further exacerbating this issue.” (Ott, 2010)
Social networking can also hurt the relationship between employees. Negative messages can be sent through social networking sites and can hamper the ability of employees to work together. “Additionally, social networking provides a way for employees to communicate with one another throughout the day without anyone overhearing, leading to an increase in off-task conversations.” (Zeiger) In order to ensure work related discussions were kept internally, one organization developed their own “internal Facebook” where employees discussed issues with each other rather than taking to a public forum such as Facebook or Twitter.
The last disadvantage of social networking in the workplace is the potential breach of confidentiality and the tarnishing of the corporate image by employees and managers; this means that employees can inadvertently post confidential business information on blogs, wikis, or Facebook. Negative posts intentionally posted by disgruntled employees can also tarnish the image of the company because the information can be so quickly shared between users. These breaches in confidentiality between the business and its employees can lead to much bigger issues down the line.
Inevitably, social media addiction leads to low productivity of individuals and adversely affects company goals.