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Generation Web 2.0 Workers May Prefer Facebook Perks Over More Pay

Facebook at work

If you want to motivate your staff to succeed, then trusting them to manage their own time—and use the Net when they like, including for accessing social networks—could get you better results than offering more pay, says new data.

Over 1,600 managers and staff were surveyed by Clearswift (a firm specializing in "unifying information security") for this research, covering the U.K., Australia, Germany, and the USA during the first two months of 2010. The headline figure from Clearswift's resulting report, "Web 2.0 in the Workplace," is that over 79% of respondents said that the most important feature of a workplace for them, above job title and even pay, is to be trusted to organize their own work schedule and have free access to the Net.

In addition, some 62% of workers thought it should be allowable to use social networking services from their desk for their own private purposes. Just 51% of management-level respondees had the same viewpoint, which indicates that in their mind social networking is a distraction, or something not to be performed while on the company's dime.

Clearswift even labeled these folk "Generation Standby," and noted that some 57% of 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed already are social networking, shopping, and reading personal email at work. 21% of those surveyed even said they'd turn down the offer of a job that was otherwise good, but forbade access to the Net and Facebook, Twitter and so on. The implication of Clearswift's jokey name is that we're all so increasingly connected to the world digitally that we're constantly awaiting the next digital hit, and even expect it to be a norm while working.

The figures seem dramatic, but they don't address the concerns that social networking and free Net access may actually degrade employee performance, if they're privileges that get abused, and they contrast with notions that good employees censor their Facebook pages. Still, the data sets up a bold challenge for forward-thinking companies looking for new ways to move their staff into better productivity: Let them do what they like on the Web, with the understanding that they're still required to deliver their daily tasks on time and up to scratch. If it works, you may even be able to avoid bumping up your pay bill this year.

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