Are you worried your employees are spending so much time updating their Facebook status and checking their friends’ tweets that they’re not getting any work done? Relax. A new study by Ipsos for Microsoft polled nearly 10,000 workers globally and found that using social media in the workplace actually makes employees more productive—at least, that’s what 46 percent of respondents say.
The industries where social media was most helpful in boosting productivity were media and travel/hospitality (52 percent of employees in both industries say it makes them more productive). But surprisingly, more than half of employees in heavy industries (such as manufacturing and mining) said the same, as did 51 percent of IT and telecom workers. Forty-five percent of retail and financial services employees say social media increases productivity. Only 37 percent of government employees agreed.
So how are employees using social media? The majority (68 percent) say they use it to communicate with co-workers. Half say they use it to share and review documents or files, and 47 percent say they use it to interact with customers. Less popular uses were networking (36 percent) communicating with vendors (31 percent) and doing research about customers (24 percent).
Employees agree that managers still don’t get the value of social media in the work place. Just 37 percent say their employers understand how useful social media is at work and just 31 percent report their bosses actively encourage them to use it.
In contrast, four in 10 say it’s actively frowned upon and nearly as many know someone who’s gotten in trouble at work for using it. Nearly half (47 percent) of companies put limits on employees’ social media use. Ironically, one of the most common reasons for limits is concern about lost productivity.
Forty percent of employees think social media is valuable for fostering teamwork, and nearly the same percentage think that collaboration is lacking at work. Employees believe so strongly in the value of social media that more than 3 in 10 are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.