As if there weren't enough reasons already to get social collaboration going in your organisation, a new study finds that using an online social network in the workplace can improve morale, well-being. organisational commitment and employee engagement - all while reducing employee turnover. The jointly authored paper Bridging the work/social divide: the emotional response to organizational social networking sites was written by Hope Koch, Ester Gonzalez and Dorothy Leidner - and published in the European Journal of Information Systems:
"We found that SNSs blur the boundary between work life and social life and that this boundary blurring creates positive emotions for the employees that use the system. These emotions create personal resources, which then have organizational impacts."
So it would appear that bringing down the barriers between work and life might actually prove psychologically beneficial. Perhaps none too surprisingly, they discovered that the Gen X middle managers who weren't using the social network ended up isolated, frustrated, envious and bitter.
Baylor University's press release provides some more insight into the study, which I find quite fascinating. For instance we have more on the generational gap that I spoke of in my previous post. Hope Koch (Ph.D., Baylor University associate professor of information systems), one of the authors of the study notes that:
"For millennials, mixing their work life and their social life via an online social network created positive emotions for the employees who use the system...These emotions led to more social networking and ultimately helped the employees build personal resources like social capital and organizational learning."
On the other hand, the Gen X senior executives and middle managers were weary of the network, with the middle managers going as far developing a negative attitude to the network when they "realised that the new hires that were using the social network had managed to accrue social capital and social experiences with senior executives that they had not had access to in their many years of work."
With that we have technology, psychology and delicate social dynamics all rolled into one. It also points to what Don Tapscott mentions when speaking of company social networks as being a more meritocratic environment, where everyone usually has equal access to one another.
What can we take away from all this? Well, while there's no doubt that company social networks are incredibly beneficial, once again, getting people to collaborate is about far more than IT. The complex psychology of one person is hard enough to decipher - add a whole group of people together and you have a recipe that requires some very delicate human management skills.