Social media is damaging boomers’ workplace productivity, while Gen Y blame bullying

Baby boomers say they’re distracted by social media at work more than Generation Y, in the surprising results of a national survey on workplace productivity.

The survey states Australian workers are unproductive, with the top “productivity killer” cited as employees not knowing how to use workplace technology.

Prior research by Stanford University and the London School of Economics shows the education level of management and staff can also make a difference to how staff operate.

Clarius Group commissioned a survey of 1008 randomly selected professionals nationally to identify barriers to productivity.

The survey stated 92.5% of workers said they had capacity, and on average they had a quarter of the day in which they could be working.

The survey interviewed 223 Gen Y workers, 495 from Gen X and 277 baby boomers and 13 Millennials.

Each age group had different top reasons for lower productivity. When asked, “What prevents or distracts you from being your most productive at work?” 13.1% of Gen Y workers said bullying from a manager or a colleague, while 12.3% said they didn’t know how to use the technology they have. 

Of the Gen Xers, 10.6% said they didn’t know how to use the technology and 8.9% said they were spending time organising their social calendar.

The results showed 10.1% of the baby boomers surveyed said they were organising their social calendar, and equal second at 7.6% each was the reason that they were bullied or they were using social media.

The boomers’ social media distraction may come as a shock given the stereotype of Gen Y locked to their Instagram and Twitter pages, but the survey states Gen Y comes second at 7.4% followed by Gen X at 7.2%

E&I People Solutions HR consultant Abiramie Sathiamoorthy told SmartCompany team members had to be engaged with their work to fully participate in the workplace.

She said warning signs for a manager to recognise a worker that can’t use their equipment starts with looking at the results.

“Managers should ask themselves: What’s the output that you’re looking for? Maybe the fact they can’t use the technology is the reason.”

Sathiamoorthy explains that part of a manager’s role is to understand the ways a team member needs to up-skill, so that they can perform their job well.

On the second-highest reason overall in the survey, bullying, Sathiamoorthy said the warning signs to look for were absenteeism or disengagement, and managers had the responsibility to police the workplace.

The Australian Workplace Productivity Agency, a federal government body, released a report in March called Future Focus 2013: National Workforce Development Strategy which states management has a large role to play in worker productivity.

Citing a combined Stanford University and London School of Economics study, it said 84% of managers and a quarter of the non-management workforce in top firms held degrees, while at the lowest scoring firms only 53% of managers and 5% of the workforce were tertiary educated.

“Australian enterprises and industry stand to improve productivity if effective management

practices are incorporated into their business operations,” the report stated.

Top 10 productivity killers, from the Clarius Group research

  1. Don’t know how to use the technology I have
  2. Bullying
  3. Organising social calendar
  4. Social media
  5. Don’t like their job
  6. Poor manager
  7. Too qualified for the job
  8. Too much work
  9. Don’t know what they are supposed to be doing
  10. Boring job


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