Social media's workplace impact.




Koch, Hope W.

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In Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man, McLuhan probes how new media changes society.  Social media such as Facebook and Twitter impact both our social lives and our work lives.  This panel presentation will discuss social media’s impact in the workplace by sharing insights from a multi-year case study conducted at USAA.  USAA implemented an internal social networking site, which it calls its internal Facebook, to help new employees connect with the organization.  The social networking site allows new hires to blend their personal and work lives.  New hires can use the social networking site to engage in activities during the work day.  Activities include playing, (e.g., scheduling table tennis matches), socializing, learning new things, and supporting one another (e.g., encouraging, consoling and cheering). Boundary theory suggests that this blending of one’s work and social life can create role conflict (Sundaramurthy & Kreiner, 2008).  For example, a mother responding to work texts while she is coaching her child’s soccer practice.   Contrary to boundary theory, this research shows that blending work life and social life can have positive impacts.  Most of this study’s new hires were engaged in tedious, technical jobs developing computer applications.  The social networking system offered respite.  Using the broaden and build theory of positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2004) as a framework, this research shows that workplace social media use can create positive emotions which then generate personal resources.  Resources are physical, social, intellectual and psychological. Furthermore, this research illustrates McLuhan’s proposition that the same media may transform different societies in different ways.  In this study, the social networking system affected middle managers and executives in different ways.  While the social media site left the new hires feeling good, middle managers felt isolated and marginalized, since the social networking system afforded new hires opportunities unavailable to middle managers.  Executive were circumspect.  They recognized the system’s socialization benefit and positive impact on turnover, but they wanted the new hires to use the social media system for more work-related activities. These findings offer practical implications for organizations wanting to implement social media in the workplace and theoretical implications.  Most psychological and information systems research focuses on negative emotions and our work bring insight into playfulness in the workplace.



Social media., Work environment., Role conflict., Boundary theory.