Yesterday the Huffington Post reported an interesting story about how Maneesh Sethi used Craig’s List to employ a “slapper” to keep him from wasting time on Facebook when he should be working.  Digging deeper, I found Sethi’s own blog post on his website where he described how he first came upon the idea.  Using an app called RescueTime for a week Sethi discovered that he managed just 38% efficiency.  Sethi complained that he easily got off task to check Facebook or get on other social networking sites instead of working.

So, he got an idea to hire someone to sit with him and slap him in the face every time he got off task.  He posted an ad on Craig’slist and immediately received a rash of responses.  After working through the weirdos, he settled on the young lady pictured.  The next day, they met for several hours at a cafe.  Sethi gave her basic ground rules and set about getting things done.

It worked.  While the Slapper was with him, his productivity skyrocketed to 98%.

So, why post this on an employment law blog?  It raises a very important issue – Does employee Facebook and social networking usage negatively affect productivity?  

Sort of.  In April of this year many news articles were posted following an informal study by corporate wellness company Keas which found that employees were 16% more productive if they can take 10 minute Facebook breaks.

But, in the same breath, Marketwire reports that 26% of employees of employees quizzed in a separate study admitted wasting over an hour a day on Facebook or other social media sites.

What is an employer to do?  Leave it alone?  Attempt to manage it?  Cut Facebook and similar sites off completely?

If the information above is to be believed, employers should not cut Facebook off, but somehow find a way to keep employees to short breaks.  And, back to Mr. Sethi’s problem, how exactly does an employer do that?  Hire Slappers?  Not unless they want to be sued for committing assault and battery of their employees.

The best idea that occurs to me is for employers to use any one of many readily available internet monitoring programs that can tell how much employees use social media during the day.  Monitor one employee each week and discipline them for overusage – more than a predetermined acceptable amount per day.

Of course, employees are resourceful and many will just turn to their cell phones which offer streaming Facebook.

The chase continues . . .