The Loop

Napping, Tweeting and Angry Birds: How to Increase Productivity

by Fickewirth Benefits Advisors
Filed under: Productivity

social mediaBack in 2007, NASA did a study revealing that pilots who took a 26-minute nap in the cockpit would improve job performance and become more alert. Just about anyone who's experienced a quick "cat nap" can attest to these results – with improvements in mood, attention span, and memory. By contrast, waking up from a two-hour nap can make you feel disoriented and groggy.

Ideally, lunch time is when workers have the opportunity to "recharge their batteries" to enhance employee productivity upon their return. Eating outside the office with friends, taking a walk, swimming or exercising in the gym are all ways that can help reset the dial and return ready to work. But how many of your employees do you see doing that? And how often – every day?

More likely, employees are sitting at their desks eating take out or a lunch brought from home while catching up on emails and work-related reading while they eat. The ritual for returning to work may involve cleaning up their workspace and a quick trip to the restroom. How invigorating is that?

As employers, we provide coffee makers, microwaves, refrigerators, snack and drink machines, and even cafeterias as a convenience for our workforce. We may even take some pride in knowing we get more work time from employees since they don't have to leave the office to eat lunch. But how productive are the work hours of those employees who don't take a real break all day, day-in and day-out?

Perhaps it's not as important that an employee physically move away from the desk as much as mentally or socially take a break. For example, instead of reading and catching up on work-related emails and materials, perhaps you should re-think your social media policies. Allowing employees to catch up with friends via Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sites may give them the mental break they need to return to their work with more energy. Or, to help them also get away from their physical environment, consider creating a Social Media Room where they can log on to computers with access to social media sites – with an automatic timeout session.

A recent survey by data analytics firm Evolv revealed that employees who engage in up to four social media networks are exceptionally productive and experience less turnover in their jobs. The survey found that participants who were engaged in five or more social media forums – which comprised the smallest group among the surveyed respondents – actually had higher performance records. While the reasons for this are not clear, the survey's author surmised this may be because (1) these workers were more technologically savvy, (2) they may be more adept in job-related social situations, and (3) they've become efficient at the art of communicating quickly and employing time management tips – allowing them to get more done in less time.

Interestingly, the survey also demonstrated that employees who do not participate in social networks engage in more job turnover than those who belong to four or fewer. This finding suggests that an element of performance management could mean more social engagement inside (and outside) the office.

While permitting employees unlimited access to social media outlets all day is not likely to increase productivity, limited use may have its merits. When you consider the benefits of a power nap, power walk, or other productivity enhancing tactics, a power half-hour of virtual chatting with non-work friends about non-work topics could have the same impact. When you think about it, it's less expensive and, well – less odd than assigning an exclusive space for midday employee naps.

Personal emails, texting, and playing games on a computer or smartphone are all ways employees can waste time while appearing to be working. Instead of policing social activities, perhaps employers would be better off permitting them in an allotted time and space in an effort to enhance employee productivity upon return to their workspace.

The Loop Archives

Open All | Close All

Health Care Reform
Training & Leadership Development
Performance Management
Attraction & Retention

Request More Info


RSS Subscribe via RSS

Join Our Newsletter

Thank you for subscribing.