Employees increasingly use social media for work—and are even willing to pay for it themselves2013-05-30
Let’s start with a basic premise: Most employees want to do a good job. They want raises, bonuses, promotions and recognition. They take pride in their work. Obstacles to doing well frustrate them. And they’ll use whatever tools are available to reduce hassle and improve their ability to succeed.
I have seen this first-hand conducting audits for clients whose employees—embracing the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement—use their own smartphones to improve productivity and eliminate barriers to getting work done. As often as not, their use of their own mobile devices violates a company policy, but they do it anyway. A worker texting his boss is more efficient than leaving a voice mail message and waiting for the boss to get back to his office. A truck driver emailing a picture prove the load was shifted before he picked it up can save a lot of grief later on.
Employee use of social media in the workplace is reaching the same level. Once a distraction for management and a productivity concern, today nearly half of employees use social tools at work specifically to help improve their productivity. That’s the finding of a study conducted by Ipsos for Microsoft. Microsoft refers to employees using their own social networks and tools to enhance job performance as Bring Your Own Service. (An infoposter detailing survey results appears at the end of this post.)
Forty percent of employees believe social tools produce better teamwork and—lending credence to the BYOS concept—31% are willing to spend their own money to buy the social tools they need at work.
But even more striking is the lack of adoption at the enterprise level. Given evidence that social tools raise productivity by as much as 30% (according to McKinsey and Company), you’d think more organizations would want to tap that resource. But more than 30% of companies undervalue social tools and continue to block employees from using them. Nearly 40% of employees believe their employers don’t offer enough collaboration.
This was no small study. Ipsos surveyed nearly 10,000 information workers in 32 countries. Employees in Asia-Pacific were most inclined to credit social tools with greater productivity, followed by Latin America and Europe. More Latin American workers see collaboration increasing through the use of social channels, followed by those in Asia-Pacific and Europe. Latin America and Asia-Pacific are also where you’ll find most workers using social media; among many companies in North America and Europe, even those that haven’t locked it down have been slow to embrace it.
Microsoft’s sponsorship of the survey is a no-brainer since its acquisition of Yammer, which figures into some of the results. The press release reporting on the study quotes Red Robin restaurant chain CIO Chris Laping pointing to Yammer as a key tool in the transformation of “a widespread employee base of nearly 30,000 across 44 states into a more tightly knit workforce focused entirely on team member and guest satisfaction.”
Microsoft has also introduced The Worldwide Water Cooler, collecting tweets bearing the #wwwcooler hashtag as a conversation about workplace collaboration. The site asks three questions from the survey, lets you tweet your answer (e.g., “Social tools help me get work done better and faster,” then displays the vote count to date for each question before inviting you to continue the conversation using the hashtag.