According to a Nielsen poll, here’s how Americans spend their time online:
The chances are that when your employees access the Web at work, this is what they’re doing. The survey doesn’t break down the percentage of time in each of these categories that’s related to personal matters. However, you can assume that — unless you’ve encouraged or allowed your employees to go online for business purposes — most of their use is going to be personal.
As we discuss in the Social Media Training Module, this is a battleground in the workplace. Employees are demanding greater and greater freedom, flexibility, telecommuting, multitasking, etc. It’s how they were raised. Older managers who try to control this new workforce closely find themselves causing dissatisfaction and non-productivity in the process. They also have to consider that dissatisfaction can spread like wildfire through mobile devices and might be protected by the National Labor Relations Act and a variety of other laws.
Here’s the solution: Have a dialogue with your workforce about the use of the Web, social media, mobile devices, etc. Acknowledge that, although the workplace has changed, productivity remains the bottom line. This is another reason why the ability to benchmark performance results is more important than ever. Do you really care if employees spend half their day on their mobile devices, if during the other half of their day they meet or even exceed benchmarks? Although this might rub us the wrong way, is it really something that we should worry us? For example, I use a number of independent contractors through programs such as Elance. I don’t police any of them. I’m simply hiring them to produce results — which is exactly what you’re doing, or should be doing, with your employees. The question is, to what extent is that result clarified? To what degree can inappropriate use of mobile devices undermine activities that enhance your bottom line? Just as important, which employees are using mobile devices in a way that’s helping to grow your business? How can you learn from those employees?
As mentioned, the Social Media Training Module offers a one-hour webinar on this topic, as well as a shorter update video that explains NLRA constraints on social media use by employees. The personnel forms also include sample policies on the use of social media and mobile devices.