Peer pressure is a crucial factor in the actions and choices of every person in daily life, whether the decision entails what dish to order at brunch, whether to have a drink with dinner, whether to run harder or slower on the treadmill, or what time to leave work that day. Humans are predisposed to respond to the social cues of their peer groups in order to either gain acceptance or prove a point by breaking away from the status quo. And contrary to what you may have learned in grade school, peer pressure doesn’t always equate to negative influence.
In a recent article by Nicholas Carr, posted in the MIT Technology Review, he states that “our behavior is determined largely by social norms and influences of our peers, but… we do not have the complete freedom in choosing our peer groups.” What, then, does this mean for the workplace? The enterprise is an archetypal example of individuals having limited control over selecting their peer group. The interactions one has with colleagues in a social setting, along with workplace surroundings, heavily influence the level of productivity and worker satisfaction.
Traditionally, management has only been privy to information derived from the end products of their employees. And yet, that picture is not a complete one. In the fight to maximize workplace productivity, massive quantities of potentially useful data are being ignored. This fact begs a couple of interrelated questions: what kind of data would be relevant, and how can we begin to capture and analyze it?
In today’s society, social media is king. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, instant messages: you name it, people use it. But to label social tech as a mere consumer trinket would be a gross oversimplification. As familiarity with social platforms has grown outside of the workplace, employees have become quicker to adopt the social tools implemented within the walls of the enterprise. The office “water cooler” is increasingly digital, with most of that information owned by the corporation. While mining of employee social data outside of the office would raise legal red flags, enterprise social data is a safe zone that can offer much of the behavioral data of traditional social networks with less business risk and fewer privacy concerns.
Besides, the content of enterprise social platforms is simply more relevant to the workplace. It’s created at work, for work, in collaboration with coworkers. This information reveals sentiment, satisfaction and hours spent working during the day. Simply capturing this data can reveal what and when employees are producing, as well as previously unseen skills and strengths. It can illuminate budding unrest in the workplace by revealing discontent early on. It provides statistical backing for determining why some projects are completed faster or more effectively than others. Finally, it lays out who is leading the pack and who is falling behind.
Peers can pressure one another to work harder or slack longer. How are you ensuring your work force is making the most of its strengths? It’s time to capture the data— and stay ten steps ahead of the rest—by viewing the complete image.