Survey Data & Analysis
Survey Method and Procedure:
The students in CC 499 02 (Senior Capstone Project) of CUNY School of Professional Studies participated in the semester long study of social media in the workplace under the advisement of Professor John Driver. As a class, we created an IRB approved survey to distribute publicly with questions surrounding the usage of social media; social media work policies, personal privacy and more. When finalized, the survey was distributed via email to the entire CUNY School of Professional Studies population and recipients were encouraged to share the survey with others to get a well-rounded set of data.
The survey itself was well received with 271 total responses (196 males and 75 females). Respondents were taken from only those above the age of 18. Survey answers were collected anonymously and voluntarily.
Ages of participants by percentage:
As can be seen in the percentages of respondents by age groups, survey results do not accurately reflect certain ranges including senior citizens, those younger than eighteen years of age and so on. It should be noted that while there was an attempt to redistribute this survey beyond those users at CUNY SPS, it must be assumed that most of the responses have been collected from that population and may or may not have skewed the results in even the ages ranges with the largest group of respondents.
Respondents were asked a total of thirty six questions about whether or not were allowed to use social media at work, how often they used social media and what the policies of their employer were when it came to social media. Some results were surprising, others not surprising at all. What was clear regarding the results, was that if people were not completely blocked from social media at work most weren't aware of or sure what was included in their company's social media policy.
Thesis staement of this capstone project:
Business owners are facing new challenges when it comes to the use of social media in the workplace including questions of employee privacy, productivity and organizational culture. As a result, more businesses are creating social media policies that protect the interests of the company but may violate the personal rights of employees.
Summary of important questions related to this research:
Please chose the option that best describes your employer's approach to social media in the workplace.
While almost 20% of the survey respondents are completely blocked, almost 72% of respondents have some kind of access to social media while at work. A surprisingly 14.4% weren't sure what there access levels were and looking at the comments from the survey most of these people were either unemployed or never attempted to access social media at work because they knew it was not allowed. These results would imply that employers are at least evaluating the impacts of social media on their businesses by placing different levels of restrictions on social media websites.
Please estimate and select the number of hours you spend each day using social media while you are at the workplace or working on your job.
Interestingly, 32.1% of respondents claimed to spend 15 minutes or less using social media while at the workplace and 29.4% of respondents claimed to not use social media at all while at the workplace. This means that more than half of the respondents support Jason Fried's idea in his address 'Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work' that social media is equivalent to today's smoke breaks as 15 minute breaks that workers use to connect with friends and family but not the distraction that employers are concerned eats away at employee time (Fried). Additionally, this would also imply that productivity loss should not necessarily be the main concern behind drafting a social media policy for a company.
Does your employer have an official policy on the use of social media?
About a third of respondents either knew of a social media policy from their employer or knew that there definitely was not a social media policy from their employer. More alarming, 22% of respondent that either were not sure if there was a social media policy or didn't even know social media policies existed.
In your opinion how clear is your employer's social media policy?
About one third of respondents felt that the social media policy (if one existed) was not clear at all. Only about a quarter of respondents felt the social media policy provided by their employers was extremely clear and another 24% responded that their social media policies were clear but not 'extremely clear'. This is enlightening for companies regarding how to better communicate to their employees exactly where they stand on the topic of social media.
A majority of the rest of the questions had to do with where respondents opinions fell regarding the rights of employers to monitor, access and police employee social media usage. Almost 70% of respondents felt that it was the employer's right to monitor employee use of social media in the workplace. While the majority of respondents claimed to only spend 15 minutes a day or less accessing social media while at work almost 74% of respondents considered social media the cause of a moderate to significant decrease in productivity. Generally, respondents felt that it was acceptable for an employer to review the social media presence of a possible hire on the Internet as long as the potential employee gave permission first.
It's clear that employers are taking action in one way or another to evaluate the impacts of social media. While it would seem that some employees have a clear understanding of their level of access and their company's social media policy, other employees seem to have no idea what their company's stance is on social media. So while companies may be addressing social media by drafting policies a secondary step must be taken to communicate the policy and engage employees.
Out of the respondents that were aware of a social media policy or at least aware of their restricted access, the big take away from the research is that most respondents felt that if they knew they were being monitored it was ok of the company to do so but they felt that secret monitoring of social media activity was not acceptable. Additionally, almost 60% of respondents said that if they owned a company they would monitor employee's use of social media, so respondents seem to understand the value in doing so.
It would not appear that employees take an issue with having limitations placed on them regarding social media usage but there is a fine line between retrictions and being downright oppressive toward employees. Depending on the nature of the business it may not be necessary to completely restrict social media websites, in other businesses it may be neeeded. Respondents seemed to conceptualize this and realize that employers need to protect themselves as well.