This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.

This study explored the effects of social media on employees’ work behavior. Researchers defined communication via social media as employees’ active communication behavior, such as conversing with colleagues and friends on social media platforms. Passive communication behaviors, such as browsing web pages and posting content, were not considered.

Ultimately, the researchers sought to understand the beneficial and harmful outcomes social media may incur. On one hand, social media has been proven to foster social relationships, cultivate friendships, and enhance social exchange, therefore boosting employees’ feelings of happiness. A positive mood such as happiness likely stimulates employees’ generosity and support of organizations and engagement in extra-role behaviors (e.g., spreading goodwill, providing constructive feedback to organizations), known as organizational citizenship behavior. However, on the other hand, social media communication can lead to distraction. When employees are in the workplace, social media could distract them from executing work effectively. Outside of work, social media blurs the boundary between work and life, causing distraction, emotional exhaustion, and a sense of fatigue. Because individuals are oriented toward conserving their cognitive and physiological resources, exhausted workers tend to decrease efforts in the execution of work and engage in counterproductive work behavior (i.e., employees intentionally minimize their efforts in work, known as productivity deviance).

Participants included 286 full-time employees in various organizations and industries in the United States. The final sample consisted of 41% males and 59% females. The average age was 38 years old, and the average work experience was 18 years. More than half of the participants had a bachelor’s degree.

Key Findings
1.) Communication via social media-induced both positive emotions of happiness and negative states of fatigue.
2.) Happiness was positively related to employees’ organizational citizenship behaviors.
3.) Fatigue was positively associated with employees’ counterproductive work behaviors.
4.) Communication with friends (vs. colleagues) via social media triggered fatigue, which led to counterproductive work behaviors.
5.) Communication with friends and colleagues predicted happiness, which contributed to organizational citizenship behaviors.

Implications for Practice
It is advised that organizations 1.) minimize employees’ negative emotions related to social media communication, 2.) allow limited use of social media so that employees benefit from social interactions, and 3.) encourage employees to use internal social media to communicate with colleagues (rather than outside friends).

Labban, A., & Bizzi, L. (2021). Communication Via Social Media: How Employees Will Paradoxically Support the Organization while Putting Less Effort at Work. International Journal of Business Communication, 23294884211005526.

Location of Article
This article is available online here.
(abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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