In today’s issue of Smart Tips, we share ideas for overcoming leaders’ objections to employee social media. One way to make your case? Use studies, demographics and other research as fact-based evidence (which leaders value).

Well, here are two pieces of evidence that demonstrate that social media is not the time-waster leaders fear. In fact, according to researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute, “social technologies” have the potential to raise productivity, particularly for knowledge workers.

Employees don’t deny that they are capable of wasting time. In fact, according to a recent TrackVia study, 14% of knowledge workers admit that their biggest time-waster is chatting with their colleagues. The second? Having to deal with computer or software problems, reported 11%.

Spending time on social media, on the other hand, was way down the list: Only 5% of those surveyed said Facebook, Twitter and other social media activities affect their productivity.

But wait (as they say on infomercials), there’s more! In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, three McKinsey brains (James Manyika, Michael Chui and Hugo Sarrazin) present evidence that social media has tremendous untapped potential to improve collaboration and communication.

According to their research, “interaction workers” (such as managers, professionals and sales people) spend:

  • 28% of their work days answering writing, or responding to email
  • 19% trying to track down information (including searching through their own email)

  • 14% collaborating with co-workers

According to the McKinsey researchers, communicating and collaborating via social technology, would increase the efficiency of workers doing these activities by 25%. That’s astounding. No other process improvement method could boast such a gain. Of course, using these new methods won’t just happen: It requires a concentrated, organization-wide effort.

Still, the potential is enormous—enough to pique the interest of even the most social media-skeptic leader. So keep on eye on the McKinsey work, and keep looking for evidence to make your case for social media’s value to your organization.

By the way, want to learn more about the best ways to use social media to engage employees? Attend my colleague David Pitre's September 20 web workshop. It's sure to be an interesting session!

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