The Social Society – Social Engagement & Jobs

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Gerd Altmann/

Some days ago, I have started the series The Social Society which is meant to be a thought-provoking piece of information to get us all rethink what the challenges, opportunities and risks are that arise from the social web. For all those who engage in the Social Web as you will see in this post, it could be a job creator and a job killer. Just the way you want to see it if you are checking the latest findings from studies and posts on social engagement and what it can do to you and your job. In the end as we all know today… Social engagement costs time!

Let’s start with the good message first: An Accenture study assumes the internet will account for 21% of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in five years. Thus, it will have a remarkable impact on employment levels. It „created jobs on a large scale,“ the study claims. Accenture predicts the internet creates 2.6 new jobs for every one lost. The study cites the example of France where 500.000 jobs of middle men got replaced by technology as people thought but in reality 1.2 Mio. jobs were created through the internet. So, the internet is a job creator. So far, so good from a general point of view. We get jobs, thanks to the internet…

Now what happens when Social Society is doing their jobs?

One of the main questions that business decision makers want to know is how productive are we based on technology, the web and social activities? You will find more studies stating negative rather than positive impact on productivity when it comes to social engagement.

Although studies should be asking whether productivity increases or decreases with the use of technology, and especially the social web, most of those studies just release negative results. Or is it just the way media reads it? If you ever come across a trustworthy study that suggest the benefits of internet activity or social engagement, I would be very happy to share these findings…

Maybe the following study is a positive example? According to the latest uSamp US study, the web is a time waster. What is positive about 45% of employees surveyed stating they work 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted. Isn’t this a scary thing? Some managers might say: Sure, social media and the other forms of social engagement will be the reason for this. I can already hear them…

The study reveals however, that 60% of workplace distractions are tied to email, social networks, text messages or just jumping between windows of applications, so not only social engagement. 53% of workers „waste“ at least one hour per day on technology interruptions by social engagement and collaborative tools which equates to approx. $10,000 in annual productivity loss per person (based on an average salary of $30 per hour). Funnily enough, it is not social media that causes main problem for productivity. 23% of distractions are coming from email. So, productivity will get lost with the use of technology but social engagement is a much smaller portion. It’s the way we read studies that makes them sound appropriate for our purposes, right?

So, can the Social Society use the social web during our working hours?

Well, this is where managers and the evanglists of web technology are fighting „verbal battles“ these days. Porsche denies acces to Facebook for employees, Italian government did so to their employees, too. People get fired for being socially engaged on Twitter. Although I have to admit that some of these 13 Twitter cases were not really clever and thoughtful conversations. But go to Twitter and Facebook and just monitor what people are saying. These examples happens on a daily basis. One gets caught by proclaiming or talking about their employer, their company or some irrelevant topic. Some don’t. Or we don’t hear about it. Some people are clever and obey some clever rules about how to avoid personal branding mistakes. We are all learning social engagement these days…

So is there a solution how much social engagement is feasible for employees in the future? Or should I say for the employer…?

Spot On!
In some way companies always appreciated (and expected) social engagement and personal branding. If people were writing books, they have been seen as specialist and experts in their field. If they spoke at events, they were even more accepted and respected as business partners. If they expressed their thought-provoking opinion publicly, people rated their transpaency, their openness and their intellect. People have done this next to their jobs for ages. Companies have accepted it as it paid back to business and brands. Did this increase productivity? Who knows… Today, people write blogs, fuel discussions via Twitter and Facebook, and engage on social communities. The lack of understanding for this social engagement. How to show guidance and leadership capabilities of executives and managers in terms of embracing the value of social engagement. Tracking user patterns or blocking access to modern social media tools won’t decrease the level of social engagement. If people are busy, they will reduce their social engagement. If managers know how to use social engagement for productivity and if employees get more freedom for productive conversations (i.e. fixed % of spare time for social engagement) and social training, I can imagine we will see more positive reports and studies on social engagements in the future.

Again, this is just a thought-proking post and I am very much interested in your views… Come on get engaged! It will help all of us get a better understanding of how to improve our future workplace.

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4 Kommentare zu "The Social Society – Social Engagement & Jobs"

  1. News Update – Best of the Day am 28.06.2011 14:49 

    […] is less distractive than email processing and switching windows (for further reading have a look at Social Engagement & Jobs). He quotes that email or answering a cell phone call account for 83% of in-meeting interruptions […]

  2. Study: Will the traditional office be extinct by 2021? Yes, say 58% of UK workers… am 10.07.2011 23:26 

    […] Schreiben Sie einen Kommentar Tweet Rainer Sturm / pixelio.deHow long will we continue working in traditional offices? How long is commuting still a must to keep a good job? A question that I got asked quite often in the last months. My view is, it won’t take another decade to understand that there are several ways to establish a new and more efficient work-life balance instead of commuting in the office every day. However, I see many challenges for our social society when thinking about jobs and social engagement… […]

  3. Study: Social Media & Workplace? Are policies a must…? am 17.10.2011 18:02 

    […] companies it is a challenge to manage employee’s use of Social Media. A new study by DLA Piper now found that one third of employers have disciplined employees for […]

  4. Studie besagt, Fehlnutzung von Social Media am Arbeitsplatz ist problematisch… « Digitalstrategie am 07.02.2012 09:41 

    […] vor kurzem habe ich ausgeführt erläutert, wie es um das Thema „Jobs und Social Engagement“ steht. Und zugegebenermassen, ist es eine große Herausforderung, wenn auch nicht unlösbare […]

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