April 06, 2009, 3:20 PM — Workers quietly rejoice when stories like this one from Reuters hit the newswires: "Facebook, YouTube at work make better employees: study." It excuses their WILB-ing, or "workplace Internet leisure browsing," and may even assuage some of the guilt they feel after taking their fourth "Which Osbourne are you?" quiz.
According to the study's author, a little WILB-ing here and there sharpens employees' concentration, which is better for a company in the end.
While the Reuters story may seem like fluffy page-filler -- anything involving Facebook or YouTube is not widely considered "serious news" -- it does bring up an important issue. That is, that many companies miss the point when it comes to maximizing worker productivity. While said companies are spending millions of dollars on software blockers to prevent WILB-ing, they scrimp when it comes to giving employees the tools to get their jobs done (and many people today are doing the jobs of two or three).
If you throw the job of two at someone who used to work 50 hours a week at one, what can you expect? Surely not efficiency. And if you require employees to use specific software and processes but don't offer training and support, what then can you expect? Definitely not sharp tacks.
Until employees are viewed as not just workers but capital that needs nurture, they, as an investment, will yield no return.
I'm not advocating mandatory Facebook Breaks or on-the-clock YouTube Me Time, but I am excited that our sour economy has forced a hard look at business practices.