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It is very clear that social media is a long way off from infiltrating the workplace according to new research from my professional body the CIPD.

The survey of more than 2,000 employees, launched at the CIPD’s Social Media in HR conference has found “that while three in four (76%) use social media in their personal lives, just one in four (26%) use it for work purposes.”

To my mind the research shows that firms are taking a sensible approach to social media use in the workplace with pragmatic policies and alignment to the bottom line.

From a psychological perspective the survey also “confirmed generational differences in the use of social media, with the proportion of UK employees who use social media for work rising to 42% among 18 to 24 year-olds.” This, argues the authors “suggests it will become more commonplace in the future, irrespective of organisational strategy, and many employers are likely to be left playing catch up. ”  

Personally, and I am no luddite, I don’t think so; the risks and distractions outweigh the benefits.  Only when technology becomes the third arm or replaces us altogether, will we see greater use – why?  Because it will become practical.  My thoughts are supported by some of the benefits listed as being associated with social media use in the workplace:

  • Half (50%) of those who use social media for work purposes say it helps them collaborate with people outside their organisation
  • 53% say it gives them meaningful connections with new people
  • 1 in 5 (20%) says it gives them the opportunity to discuss aspects of their work they would not otherwise discuss
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) says it helps them be more responsive to customers
  • Around 1 in 4 says it helps them be more influential in their organisations (24%) and gives employees a voice (23%).

I was interested to read that access for those with disabilities does not get a mention. Are employers missing a trick?

I am surprised at the figures showing that half of employees (50%) have access to social media at their workplace (double the number that currently use it) and would question the make up of the survey.

The last word comes from Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the CIPD, comments who rightly says: “….the impact of social media in the workplace is likely to grow as more people interact with it. When you look at the number of young people already using social media, it does look set to become a bigger part of how we work in the future.”

You can register for a free account with the CIPD and access the report here