Social Media in the Workplace
Let’s face facts, almost every one of your employees is on social media. Not just that, but they’re on it often. The NY Times recently reported that Facebook users typically spend up to fifty minutes out of their day browsing feeds. And why wouldn’t they be? Social media continues to revolutionize the way we interact with friends, attract potential leads, and grow professional relationships.
However, more and more employers are cracking down on social media in the workplace to promote consistent productivity.
But what does social media mean? It seems like the definition expands every week as new platforms continue to roll out.
What is an acceptable social media policy?
What are the legalities involved?
With time, productivity, and security issues on the line, it’s important to understand how to implement a workplace social media policy that protects your interests while safeguarding your employee’s rights.
What Is Social Media?
The first social media platform that jumps to mind is Facebook, but social media expands far beyond those parameters.
Social media includes blogs like WordPress, image sharing services including Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest, message boards like Reddit, YouTube, Twitter and so on. Basically, social media can be defined as any service or platform that connects people and information through mediums including (but not limited to) language, photography, and video.
With all of these options for your employees, how do you control what they view? Can you?
Should You Allow Employees To View Social Media At Work?
Your company probably incorporates social media into its marketing campaign. Incorporating social media usage in your office may actually strengthen your employee life cycle.
Allowing social media usage in the workplace sounds like a bad idea. However, some recent studies have yielded interesting results. One Microsoft study found that 46% of workers said their productivity increased when exposed to social media throughout the workday. Moreover, 37% of those interviewed wanted more social media platforms available in the workplace to further increase productivity!
Increasing social media usage allowance, even slightly, can help to reinvigorate your employees during the after-lunch slump. That same Microsoft study found that employees who were allowed to “graze” social media throughout the day saw increased performance. Think of it as a short mental break, a refresher for your employees, before they continue on their day.
On the flip side, cybersecurity concerns may cause hesitation within your organization – and with good reason. As big as social media has grown, so too has the rise of hackers. And just like you, they know where to go to yield the highest results – social media. Including social media into the workplace culture can open your company to harmful viruses or compromise important information.
It’s best to weigh the pros and cons of social media before deciding what’s best for your company.
Developing Social Media Guidelines
Acceptable Social Media Usage
Including a guideline that outlines what is acceptable, and what is not, gives your employees the freedom to peruse Facebook (within reason) while protecting your business interests and assets.
Ensure that your office’s social media guidelines clearly state how an employee should interact on various platforms throughout the day. Your employees need to understand what they can and cannot say online – whether negative comments about work or a coworker, or any mention of work at all.
You may consider monitoring their usage. Monitored social media usage has benefits and drawbacks when conducted internally. While you should monitor usage, it’s important to understand what to look for and what to ignore when making hiring or termination decisions in order to avoid discrimination practices.
You could hire a third-party to perform social media monitoring. This way, they will only report with relevant professional information, skipping personal posts to ensure privacy and objective decisions are made.
Illegal Social Media Policies
Workplace social media bills are still being written up, however those in place tend to vary state-to-state.
In Maryland, for instance, it is illegal for an employer to ask for login credentials, however it is legal for an employer to access personal social media accounts to ensure guidelines are being met.
Your employees may be posting protected or unprotected information. This should be included in your guidelines. For instance, unprotected information may include status updates by a coworker who is Facebook friends with their employer.
Again, protected information varies between states. Facebook posts asking for coworker input about a particular interoffice issue may be protected in that speech, even if they make negative comments or post profanities.
It is very important to seek out any laws that may alter your social media policy.
Including social media into daily office life may increase productivity and job satisfaction. Introducing a smart policy that protects your business and your employee’s personal information can, in turn, increase trust and respect for considering your employees. And, of course, they’ll complete tasks with increased focus and drive!