Does Social Media Enhance Employee Productivity?
What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology.
When employees go social: Do you know what your employees are doing online? Come next May, Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Loong won’t have any trouble answering that question. That’s when 100,000 computers used by the city-state’s civil servants will be disconnected from the Internet. The government is taking this drastic action to “tighten security,” writes tech editor Irene Tham in The Straits Times.
Being of a cynical bent, I think that eliminating employee access to Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms might give Singapore’s government a nice bump in productivity, too. But I might be wrong, according to a report from the Pew Research Center that delves into the use of social media in the workplace.
“Today’s workers incorporate social media into a wide range of activities while on the job,” explain Pew Center researcher Kenneth Olmstead and University of Michigan School of Information professors Cliff Lampe and Nicole Ellison. “Some of these activities are explicitly professional or job-related, while others are more personal in nature.”
Sure, their survey says — ding! — that the number one reason why American workers use social media at work (34% of respondents) is “to take a mental break from their job.” Moreover, reason number two (27% of respondents) is to “connect with friends and family while at work.” But then comes a list that might make your inner CEO perk up a bit: 24% of the respondents use social media at work to foster professional connections; 20% to help them solve work problems; 17% to foster relationships with co-workers and/or learn more about them; and 12% to ask work-related questions of people outside their organization and/or inside their organization.
So, maybe your company shouldn’t follow Singapore’s lead. Anyway, aren’t all those civil servants simply gonna go all Hillary Clinton with their personal devices?
Cutting the cost of sales with technology: The sales function jumped on the technology bandwagon early on, adopting CRM and other sales management software from companies like Salesforce.com, which has been around for 17 years now (notwithstanding its famously anemic, when not altogether non-existent, net income). The new frontier for sales technologies, according to an article by McKinsey consultants Bertil Chappuis and Brian Selby, is now operations — specifically, the re-engineering, automation, and optimization of sales processes and support resources to reduce the cost of sales.