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Smartphones, Social Media and Productivity

Digital composite of Man touching phone against Night city with connectors

You know it. We know it. Your employees are using paid time for personal social media, texting, and calls. In fact, a Pew Research survey from June 2016 found that more than 75% of employees were guilty and the number is most likely climbing higher. In the name of understanding your employees better, consider the following reasons given for social media use and, according to the Pew survey, what percentage of people acknowledged that it was their motivation.

  • 34% ever use social media while at work to take a mental break from their job
  • 27% to connect with friends and family while at work
  • 24% to make or support professional connections
  • 20% to get information that helps them solve problems at work
  • 17% to build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers
  • 17% to learn about someone they work with
  • 12% to ask work-related questions of people outside their organization
  • 12% to ask such questions of people inside their organization

 We gain additional insight from a productivity survey conducted online by Harris Poll for Careerbuilder. (2016).  No one was shocked to discover that cell phone use/texting was by far the biggest culprit – blamed by 55% of employers who answered the survey. The next three “biggies” included also focused on the “social” aspect.

  • Cell phone/texting: 55 percent
  • The Internet: 41 percent
  • Gossip: 39 percent
  • Social media: 37 percent

According to these and other studies, smartphones and other avenues of social media are resulting in full-time employees only being productive 25 out of 40 hours per/work week. So what is the answer? Some suggest that employers who try to regulate the issue are wasting time trying to do the impossible. Others claim it isn’t a smartphone or social media issue at all, but rather a performance issue – which is easier and more effective to measure. If an employee is not performing up to standards – regardless of the reason – address the performance problem.

In a recent Insperity Blog Post on a similar issue – employees socializing too much on the job – we find helpful tips that can be applied to cell phones/social media.

Focus on productivity and objectives 

When it comes right down to it, the issue is only an issue when it generates missed goals and deadlines, either for individuals or for the team. Refrain from micromanaging your employees’ time, and instead focus on whether the work gets done.

Focus on problem behavior, individually and quickly

When you have an employee who is spending overtime on his/her cell phone and social media, remember to coach him or her in private, never in front of others. Focus on productivity, such as an upcoming deadline or other tasks that need to be finished. Keep it about the quality of work – not personal.

Social Media and Smartphone policies

Yes, you may have to do it. If social media and texting become a department or company problem, you may need to consider establishing parameters and guidelines for when employees can take a social media break. Many companies even include social media, Internet, and personal call policies in their employee handbooks.

Finding answers isn’t easy, but it’s a must-do in our digital society. Please share your successes on the AllianceStaff Facebook page. We’d love to read your comments.

Meanwhile, we’re focusing on finding you productive employees. AllianceStaff is a full-service placement search firm with a deeply rooted network throughout the metropolitan Milwaukee area. We work in your best interest and will find talented employees that fit not only your job but also your culture. Contact us today.







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