Recently a friend from my old work sent me an out of the blue email. It was a standard message, friendly banter, disparaging remarks about my sexuality and some sort of quip about how amazing it was that out of 1 billion sperm, I was the fastest.
All joking aside, one point that struck me as interesting was that the company had decided to ban Facebook. Again.
It’s obvious that senior managers perceive Facebook and social networking during work time as unacceptable and a roadblock to productivity, however the back and forth clearly indicates that they’re not sure about the implications of banning sites such as Facebook altogether.
The Power of Expectation
Generation Y workers have an intimate relationship with technology. These stats from Wikipedia state:
- 97% own a computer
- 97% have downloaded music
- 94% own a cell phone
- 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
- 75% of college students have a Facebook profile and most of them check it daily
Simply put, the younger working generation is used to instant gratification, they expect to be able to access social media and probably have an addiction to doing so. With social networking, affordable web hosting and the ability to easily host blogs, people have come to depend on their connectivism.
What are the implications of taking this away?
Companies such as Google, with their gaming rooms, lounges and relaxed policies realise that the more free an employee feels, the more productive they will be.
Generation Y aside, taking away workers rights will only serve to undermine their motivation. Senior managers and supposed leaders need to realise that people will perceive taking away access to resources they’ve previously had (or believe they have to right to access) as a betrayal of trust.
Two steps forward, one step back?
If you’ve worked for a large corporate, you’re probably been to some sort of ‘Company Values’ training. The purpose being to instil the company values into you, so that you act in the best interests of the company; customers are the lifeblood of our business, increase your circle of influence, compete on value not price – and all that sort of wank.
These training sessions are not cheap, if a company is willing to spend so much money in order to get people invested, why throw it all away by fostering resentment towards the majority of their staff?
An alternative strategy?
That’s all good and well, but there is that niggly little fact that perhaps using Facebook does actually also lower productivity. With all the games, applications and video’s it’s no surprise. However the question needs to be asked: is there a way that staff could get their social networking fix without a massive drop in productivity?
Why not implement an in-house or bespoke social media package, there are many open source options available and if it enabled staff to feel free or empowered while still having some control over what can be accessed it has to at least be worth a shot.