There’s no denying the impact that social media has had on our culture and society in the 21st century. In fact, research from the Pew Research Center website reports, “As of January 2014, 74 percent of all online adults use social networking sites. For adults ages 18-29, 89 percent of them use social networking sites.” This has created somewhat of a dilemma for employers who must often set parameters for social media use and ensure that it doesn’t interfere with operations.
Social Media in the Workplace
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or any other network, it’s hard for many people to make it through the workday without checking their profiles and updating at least once. When social media use gets out of hand, it can create distractions that cause productivity to quickly plummet. The addictive nature of social media can create big problems for businesses.
Employees can also easily post confidential information where it can be seen by thousands or even millions of people. If they expose inside secrets or proprietary information, it could have some disastrous consequences and be a burden to your business.
If an employee becomes disgruntled or has a bone to pick with your company and they decide to run the equivalent of a smear campaign on social media, it can be a big blow to your reputation and hurt your company’s brand image.
All of these potential problems can create some serious concerns for employers. An effective game plan to address them is key. While the first impulse of some employers may be to prohibit social media entirely in hopes to eradicate the problem, this isn’t always the best course of action and can actually end up doing more harm than good.
Instead, it could be better to take a more realistic approach and find a happy medium. Why? Because social media use (in moderation and with regulation) can actually increase productivity and should prevent creating a rift between you and your employees. A statistic found on the Forbes website states that “46 percent of workers say their productivity has improved thanks to social media and social media tools.”
Implementing Social Media Policies
One of the most proactive things an employer can do is establish policies that put limits on social media use, ensuring that it doesn’t become a problem:
- Set certain times throughout the workday (e.g. breaks) where employees are allowed to use social media
- Prohibit employees to use it during regular working hours
- Prohibit the sharing of sensitive information that could be detrimental to operations
- Make it clear that failing to comply with company policies will result in a future ban on social media
- Explain that multiple offenses will lead to termination
Social media is practically inescapable. It’s wise to acknowledge that many employees will want to use it at some point throughout the workday. Setting the right policies and creating guidelines allows you to better monitor social media use and have happier and more productive employees.