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What Social-Media Policies Are Suitable across Generations?
Some managers believe organizations need policies restricting employees’ access to social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Their belief is based on the assumption that using social media is merely a distraction from doing real work. However, the research evidence for this assumption is mixed—and the impact of social media may vary across generations of workers.
Some studies simply ask employees for their opinions about their access to social media. A survey of Canadian workers found that almost two-thirds have been distracted by social media, e-mail, or Web browsing. One-third reported losing more than an hour a day in checking e-mail and social media, and two-thirds said they would get more done if they were disconnected from the Internet for a set time each day. But in an international survey of information workers, almost half said using social media had increased their productivity. The younger the workers, the more likely they were to associate social-media use with greater productivity and to say they could do their jobs even better if their employer would loosen restrictions on the use of social media.
Another study, conducted by the Warwick Business School, in the United Kingdom, measured output instead of opinions. According to the researchers, using social media was associated with greater productivity. The two-year study of employees at a telecommunications company found that they were more productive when they used social media to communicate with customers. The mixed results suggest that a single policy might not apply equally well to all employees.
1. Thinking about your current job or a job you would like to have, would access to social media help or distract you? Do you think your age plays a role in your opinion? Why?
2. How could human resource management support decisions about creating a policy for using social media?