Going Social At Work: Good Or Bad?
Social media is everywhere. It’s an integral part of our lives. Yet some continue to resist it – especially in the workplace.
As executives and HR experts, you’ve probably come across social media policy. Many companies ban social media use altogether, and they may have a point. Excessive social media use can hamper productivity. A Pew Research Center study shows that 27% of employees use social media at work to connect with friends and family. A survey conducted by Free Office Finder discovered that 51% of employees feel social media makes them less productive (with varying degrees).
Yet there are also significant positives: The same Pew Research study discovered that 34% of employees use social media to take a much-needed mental break, while 20% use it for problem solving and work–related reasons. And according to the Free Office Finder survey, 34% of employees report an increase in productivity due to social media use.
Banning is practically impossible. Creating policy is smart.
Banning employees from using social media is impossible. The reason is mobile phones and social Apps. Yet it’s also virtually impossible because in today’s world, banning social media use is a little like telling employees not to talk for 8 hours. It won’t work. So, where do we go from here? The answer is social media policy, which can be strict or liberal, short or thorough, general or detailed. What’s best?
Want to establish clear social media policy guidelines for your organization? There are a ton of resources that can help you get started. But before you begin, ask yourself three questions:
1. Do you know who you are? Some companies feel absolutely fine about banning employees from doing stuff and employing strict disciplinary measures. It comes natural. They’re tough and watchful. It’s who they are. Some organizations strive to create a more lenient culture, where employees feel trusted. Where do you rate your organization on this scale?
2. Are you aware of how you’re interpreting data? As you read about the pros and cons of social media use in the workplace, you’ll realize that there are plenty of both. Do you hope the findings will be positive? Or are you searching for empirical reasons to say no to going social? The way you interpret data says quite a lot about the policy you should be establishing.
3. How are you dealing with reality? The research (and those mobile phones) makes it quite clear that social media is a part of your employees’ work environment. After accepting reality, what do you think is a better idea: asking your employees to narrow social media use to a necessary minimum? Or fully embracing the social media revolution and using it as leverage for employee engagement and empowerment? What makes more sense to you? What will work better in your line of business?