Can Social Media Be for Play AND Work?

Should you let employees use Facebook and other social media at work? Most experts agree that the benefits of allowing staff to use social media at work outweigh the cons. That being said, many organizations share misconceptions about its use.

Tip: “Find a way to bring employees together on social media, ask for thoughts about a project or policy, invite others into the conversation.”

¼ of American workers say they wouldn’t accept a job if they weren’t allowed to access social media
David Maxfield, author of Crucial Conversations, likens it to phones in the 1960s. “Unless you were a manager, you couldn’t have a phone, because management assumed if you were on one, you were not working.”

  • NO COMMUNICATION: Recent research finds that only 25% of workers surveyed report any sort of education about what’s OK at the office and what isn’t.
  • NO TRAINING: Three-quarters of them also report no training on how to use social media, even when work-related postings were involved.

 

EMPLOYEE ATTITUDES

  • HEAVY USAGE: According to Bloomberg Law, one third of the U.S. workforce uses social media for at least an hour a day at work.
  • HIGH EXPECTATIONS: One-quarter of American workers say they won’t accept a job that doesn’t allow access to social media.

 

BENEFITS TO BUSINESS

So, what are the benefits to the company of letting people use social media in the office?

  • IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS: 3 in 5 employees say social media improves work relationships in the office.
  • CLOSED GAP: When workers aren’t physically connected, says Maxfield, “social media can help close that gap.”

 

GOOD IDEAS

  • WHERE TO START: Think about projects or initiatives that are planned and start thinking how you can use social media to promote them internally by creating a virtual group on Yammer or Facebook.
  • SOME IDEAS: When surveyed, businesses report that social media is a great place to launch a company-wide wellness campaign or to communicate important marketplace changes like new regulations.
  • GOOD EXAMPLES: Serena Software’s CEO requires employees spend at least an hour each week on Facebook. And, at Zappos, the company offers classes in how to use Twitter.
  • SHOW LEADERSHIP: Senior management needs to set the tone. Find a way to bring employees together, ask for thoughts about a project or policy, invite others into the conversation…and respond or keep communications going each time someone does.

 

EMPLOYER CAVEATS

  • LIABILITY ISSUES: Be cognizant of legalities. Remember that if someone is using your equipment, even out of the office, the company can be held liable.
  • UNFAIR DEMANDS: According to the National Labor Relations Board, an employer cannot require workers to, for example, “use a friendly tone,“ “seek the guidance of management” about posts, or request passwords to personal accounts.

 

CLEAR POLICIES

  • TRANSPARENCY: If posting about the company, employees need to make it clear they are, indeed, employees. In tweets, for example, they should use #emp or #employee.
  • CONFIDENTIALITY: If you want to keep confidential information secure, have employees sign confidentiality agreements with you.

 

Stay current on the trends and latest sites so that you can keep your social media policy up to the minute.

Erinn Morgan