If there is one unlimited resource in this world, it’s the human capacity to find ways to avoid work. Everyone has had an hour or a day when it was very hard to focus on the thing that had to be done. So what have we done instead? Anything but that one required thing. This is a fact of a life, a fact of human nature — possibly since our cave dwelling days. Who wouldn’t rather draw pictures on a cave wall instead of monotonously rubbing sticks together to make fire? Now, fast forward to the 21st century. Who hasn’t thought longingly about their Facebook wall when what they needed to do was complete an expense report?
There’s no question that social media presents a powerful distraction for workers. However, it’s not the first and it won’t be the last. What do you do about employees who make personal calls or send personal emails on the job? Or spend too long on bio breaks? Or gossip in the halls? Or surf the net? Or play solitaire? Or indulge in tech-free daydreaming?
So what’s the solution? Turn every workplace into a police state? That’s one approach. But employer controls are only as good as the last big technology – or the last employee workaround the employer caught. And, to do it correctly, you’d have to confiscate cellphones and personal computers at the door. Do you really want to go there?
Some companies have responded with detailed social media and internet usage policies. However, when these policies are focused on employee productivity rather than the technology itself, they miss a key point. Employee performance is fundamentally a human resources issue rather than a technology issue. A highly motivated, engaged employee can do more good with little technology than a distracted, unfocused, disengaged employee can do with state of the art technology. Equally, that highly motivated, engaged employee will be far less prone to distraction and time wasting — at either the physical or electronic water cooler.
As companies have been confronting the opportunities and challenges of social media, some have made social media the whipping boy for deficiencies in the way they manage. It might make more sense to focus energy on how to keep employees engaged and motivated, rather than using technology policies to curb poorly managed employees.
[Photo Credit: Khaosprinzessin]