24 July, 2012
While most employees value and use social media in the workplace, people in global executive jobs appear to have much more faith in the technology’s ability to build workplace culture, impact the culture in a positive way, open up communication and increase transparency.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a new "Core Values and Beliefs" study from Deloitte, which looked at the opinions of American employees and executives regarding the role of social media in the workplace.
On the question of whether social networking builds workplace culture, 41% of executives participating in the study responded positively, while only 21% of employees shared this view. Likewise 45% of executives agreed that it has a positive effect on workplace culture, versus 27% of employees. Similar lines were drawn between the two groups with regards to the issue of increased transparency through social media.
"Our research suggests executives are possibly using social media as a crutch in building workplace culture and appearing accessible to employees," remarked Punit Renjen, Chairman of the Board, Deloitte LLP in New York.
"While business leaders should recognize how people communicate today, particularly millennials, they must keep in mind the limits of these technologies,” said Renjen. “The norms for cultivating culture have not changed, and require managers to build trust through face-to-face meetings, live phone calls and personal messages." 47% of workers participating in the study said that access to management is important.
Opinions diverge as to how to go about building culture, yet respondents overwhelmingly agreed on its importance to business success. "To be an exceptional organisation in today's business climate, organisations must articulate, invest in, and nurture workplace culture now more than ever," Renjen noted. "If properly supported, it will transcend any environmental shifts, and serve as the foundation for organisational sustainability and growth."
Regardless of its power to build company culture, social media is becoming entrenched in workplaces all over the world.
The Times of India reported that more than one out of three employees in India, responding to a survey from a global recruitment firm, feel that social media is gaining traction in the workplace. However they have mixed feelings about whether this phenomenon is beneficial or detrimental to the work environment.
"For many workers, social media has become almost an entitlement. It's something that is a fundamental part of their communications armory and they are using it to make career decisions and to search for jobs,” noted a representative of the firm in Mumbai. “Alongside these positives, there is also nervousness about the pitfalls if the personal and professional worlds of social media are allowed to intermingle.”
While employees are learning to incorporate social media into their day-to-day activities, managers and executives are struggling to address complex issues that may arise with increased use of social media, such as privacy concerns, monitoring of use and worker productivity.