Engaging with new prospects and potential new employers on social media may help employees find other employers they think are more interesting or a better fit. (Photo: Shutterstock)

It should not come as a big surprise that management and employees have differing views on a myriad of topics. In the 21st century, this includes the need for or usefulness of social media in the workplace. Of course employers think allowing social media can hurt productivity and attention, while today’s younger millennial workforce see it as a necessity. As it turns out, the millennials have a point.

These are essentially the findings discussed in the latest Harvard Business Review. According to Lorenzo Bizzi, assistant professor in the Department of Management at California State University, Fullerton, any worries about productivity decline are “misguided,” he says. “Social media doesn’t reduce productivity near as much as it kills employee retention.”

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Bizzi interviewed more than 250 employees within a healthcare organization. He found that people, who engage with their fellow employees on social media and through media blogs etc., tend to be more motivated and come up with innovative ideas. However, when employees engage with people outside of the workplace, they are less motivated and show less initiative. “These findings,” he explains “suggest that the effects of social media depend on who employees interact with; employees who interact with their colleagues share meaningful work experiences, but those making connections outside the organization are distracted and unproductive.”

Unfortunately, the research also shows that 75 percent of employees who use social media at work are more likely to leave the organization. Bizzi suggests that engaging with new prospects and potential new employers on social media may help employees find other employers they think are more interesting or a better fit. He adds that only 60 percent of employees who use social media for leisure are likely to leave the organization.

The two-sided coin of workplace social media creating greater creativity, but more likely to leave, creates a problem for managers and employers. Bizzi says employers can implement solutions such as leveraging social media training that focuses on positive behaviors, like collaboration, for example.

Managers, adds Bizzi, can create their own social media groups for employees who give them an outlet to be more creative and collaborative (perhaps where there wasn’t one before). It can also be used as a recruitment tool if employers use social media to recognize employee accomplishments.