The workplace is rapidly changing, with social media tools playing a part in increasing employee engagement, as well as training completion.

Social media has undeniably taken over people’s lives. Anyone who’s connected to the Internet has his or her own social media accounts, whether it’s on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, etc.

Unsurprisingly, social media has changed the way people communicate and even make a purchase. It’s gone from being a distraction to a tool businesses can actually use to push the envelope, further the sale, and get to their bottom line: revenue.

But how can social media influence the way employees work? Isn’t social media seen as a major distraction at the workplace? Is there a way for it to benefit businesses?

The 2018 Workplace Distraction Report from Udemy revealed that 59% of employees believe that using technology for personal reasons is definitely more distracting than work tools. In fact, when asked what which social media service is most distracting, 86% claimed it was Facebook. While today’s employees are too busy but still highly distracted, there are some benefits to social media in the workplace, as revealed by a new study published in The International Journal of Human Resource Management.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the study revealed some positive aspects of the use of social media in the workplace. While this may come as a surprise to some, social media does contribute to increased employee engagement.

Social media as a venue for engagement

The new study surveyed a group of employees to find out their behaviors towards social media use in the workplace. When asked about how they felt about their jobs and roles in the workplace and how motivated they felt, the employees who did use social media admitted that they were motivated and were in a better capacity to produce better ideas in the workplace.

It is indicative that the employees who use social media were able to connect better with their colleagues and “share meaningful work experiences.” This is the area in which managers and HRs can use social media to their advantage. The report recommends using social media as a way to highlight their employees’ successes and give recognition when and where it is due.

How it impacts training and development

So how does this relate to employee training and development? As humans, people desire approval and social engagement with their peers and coworkers. This may be the reason why employees are more compelled to complete a training program if there is a social aspect to it.

Researchers at Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology (via HRDive) found through a study that completion rates rise when learners are required to interact with their peers and use social media to communicate and participate in presentations. Injecting a social aspect into training helps learners become more competitive and more compelled to compare themselves to their peers—ultimately making them more driven to complete a course.

Social learning and the future

Social learning is expected to play a more integral part in the coming years, thanks to the influx of younger millennials in the workplace. This is the generation that is more acclimated to social media and the use of technology and needs little to no time to use such technologies in training or in their jobs.

Training providers should anticipate a shift towards more socially-oriented training, with engagement tools such as forums, where learners can easily compare notes, collaborate, and interact with not just their peers, but also their posts. Forums and blogs are a great way to disseminate training information and can be a good venue for productive conversations on training topics that are workplace-relevant as well.

The success of social learning is highly dependent on how adaptive a company and its training provider can be. Providing ways for social learning to play a role in training and development can prove to be beneficial not only for learners, but also the organizations they work for.

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