Kicking the Social Media Addiction

July 30, 2012 7:02 pm Published by John Feldmann

We all know the power social media has held over the world of online recruiting and job searching in the past few years. Its presence has been ubiquitous. Any time a question arises involving the future of recruiting, social media is usually part of the answer. For example, last fall, Facebook announced plans to partner with the U.S. Department of Labor and three employment-related agencies in an attempt to decrease the country’s unemployment rate through the use of social media. The social media message has been heard loud and clear – get on board or get out of the way.

Aside from its usefulness, social media seems to have an unfortunate side effect – the inability to disengage. Let’s face it, when we’re not recruiting or searching for a job using social media, we’re connecting with friends on Facebook, tweeting about what we’re doing, or otherwise immersing ourselves in an online world sometimes far away from the one in which we actually live.

One of my coworkers challenged herself to give up using Facebook for a period of time. This same coworker had the willpower to give up drinking soda for nearly a year. The Facebook challenge lasted for three hours before she was back on the site, proving that the lure of sugar and caffeine isn’t nearly as strong as the desire to stay connected. Social media is indeed a drug – after a period of regular use, what we once had no need for quickly turns into something we can’t live without.

This trend of “social media addiction” has left some employers asking how they can help their employees disengage from technology for short periods of time. After all, how can you come back from a break feeling refreshed if you never actually take a break?

One Denver-based company has come up with a unique social media addiction solution – pay employees to disconnect. Bart Lorang, CEO and co-founder of Denver-based software provider company FullContact, is offering his employees a $7,500 bonus to go on vacation, provided they meet three requirements. One, employees must completely go off the technology grid, meaning no e-mail, texting, phone calls or social media. Two, employees are not allowed to do any work while on their trip; and three, employees must actually go on a trip.

Lorang came up with the idea for the incentive while he was browsing photos of a vacation he took to Egypt. He was struck by a photo of himself riding a camel among the pyramids while texting. This made him realize the value of completely disconnecting during a trip, and now he wants to encourage his employees to do the same. He chose the $7,500 amount because he believes this is enough for a family of four to take a trip to Mexico for a week.

So this is what it’s come to: employers having to pay employees to get them away from technology for a short period of time. I find it funny that while some people are resistant to embrace new trends in technology, others can’t be dragged away even for a few days. So which type are you? I believe that due to the nature of recruiting work and the constant evolution of the industry, recruiters are sometimes more social media-conscious and technology-savvy than the average employee. Recruiters, is that true of you? How much money would it take for you to completely disconnect from the technology grid for a week? How about a month?

And employers: In a world where disconnecting seems impossible, what strategies have you come up with to promote employee wellness?

This post appears as part of our Social Recruiting Guest blogger series, during which we’ll be bringing you different perspectives from many different players in the social recruiting world. Look out for posts over the next several weeks to stay in the loop!

This post was written by John Feldmann