Social_networking_officeIn most offices, using social media can get you into trouble. If your boss catches you constantly checking Facebook, you may get a talking to about productivity.

Yet more and more companies are turning to internal social media networks as an easier way for workers to communicate with each other, and it turns out, there may be more of a benefit to the practice than quick communication.

According to a new study by Wharton School professor Lynn Wu, the implementation of social media use throughout an organization has a surprising effect: The more workers use “social” terms — such as “coffee,” “lunch” or “baseball” — while engaging with their colleagues via social networks, the less likely they are to be laid off.

The study author notes, “…what I found is that social communication has bigger power than objective performance [measures] in predicting whether individuals were laid off during the recession.”

She goes on to say, “I’m not saying that people should necessarily just stop working and [use social media] all the time. But perhaps there’s a value that social communication can provide that we don’t see. Perhaps this person is a really good team player, and people really enjoy working with this person. Maybe he did not bill directly, but he enabled his co-workers or his colleagues to do a better job. Perhaps that’s one reason. Or you can think of the traditional old boys’ club where people who tend to schmooze a lot get [ahead].”

While the study used workers in the consulting industry as its subjects, this can apply to really any type of information-gathering worker.

You can read more about the study here.

What to do you think? Does your company encourage the use of internal social communication? If so, have you found it’s enhanced or hindered your productivity and performance? 

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