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By Deepika Bajaj of Invincibelle 

 

Many companies are struggling to leverage social media for retaining and recruiting talent. And then there are companies which believe social media sites and interactions distract the employees and lead to loss of productivity.
CURRENT SITUATION
A recent study found that, in the United States, 77% of employees with Facebook accounts check in with the community from the office. And, the amount of time they’re spending in this part of the online world is growing. In the United Kingdom, another study found that 57% log in regularly from work, costing their employers 40 minutes a day.
Since, engaging in these activities is not limited over lunch time and requires individuals to spend time on these sites many times a day, it is estimated that it translates to lost productivity of $2.25 billion a year.

CONFLICTING PERSPECTIVE
The lack of productivity obviously means that companies should block these sites. But there are many companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sodexo, Sun where they are trying to embrace and adapt these technologies. They are trying to identify best practices to explain and educate employees to explore business benefits and create opportunities for employee retention.
PricewaterhouseCoopers representative says “Instead of trying to shut it down, I think we should try to embrace these technologies, put in a nice policy that governs it and explain to users the risks related to it, provide some training and then see what business benefits we can have from it,”
CATCH 22
In the midst of all this confusion, many major consumer brands and retailers, such as Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) at @Starbucks, Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) at @BestBuyCMO and several airlines, are using social networks and social media sites, and you can also find some major business-to-business players, including Deloitte at @Deloitte and @FidelityVenture.
Many jobs that exist today in the marketplace require employees to communicate over social media channels. For marketing and public relations departments, paying attention to social media channels is critical. Companies are using these sites to listen to customers, spread the word about themselves and interacting with consumers. These channels are also available to employees within a company… so that they stay in touch with what his employer is putting out into the marketplace … so the need to follow the company Twitter account or becoming a fan of the company Facebook fan page.
WHAT NOW?
If done strategically, social media activity can have significant returns.
It is possible that blocking these sites might lead to some more employee productivity, but it comes at the expense of access to customers and potential business development opportunities.
So, rather than being in a fix, companies should be thinking of the best practices around these to bring a spotlight to growth, And probably tolerate some employee distraction.
Deepika Bajaj is Founder of Invincibelle. You can follow her tweets on TWITTER. She is the author of the book DiversityTweet. She blogs at (www.deepikabajaj.com).