Thursday, February 16, 2012

Latest stats about supervisors being “Facebook friends” with employees reveals interesting generational data

ZDNet’s Friending Facebook blog reports on a survey [pdf] conducted by marketing agency Russell Herder, which concluded that 21% of employees are Facebook friends with the boss. I’ve written before about some of the risks, and some of the benefits, that germinate from taking workplace relationships online into the social sphere. Those issues haven’t changed.

There’s a lot of interesting data in the report. At 9 pages, it’s definitely worth your reading time. The data that I found to be the most interesting deals with the impact of an employee’s age on the opinion of online relationships between managers and employees:

Only 28% of employees ages 18-34 believe it is inappropriate to friend their supervisor on Facebook. The number rises to nearly 50% for those ages 45 and up.

These numbers confirm what I’ve long believed—that generational differences in attitudes about the role of technology in our daily lives exponentially complicates employers’ ability to regulate the use of social media in the workplace. To effectively implement a social media policy in your organization, you will have to account for (and solve) this generational divide.