Employee Social Media Essay
Many companies today are turning to social media bans in the workplace. Surveys from 2013 indicate that almost half of IT company workplaces have a policy that involves blocking, throttling or banning non work content (Peoples, 2013). For the most part this is because they believe that employees will be less productive if they have access to social media and other non-work related content. At the same time supporters of social media in the workplace argue that there are widespread benefits from using social media and social networking programs. Given the widespread use of social media and related tools, employers have to increasing ask themselves the question tor whether or not employees should be allowed to use social media at work.. Ultimately although some may argue that social media is distracting, there are a number of points that show that employees should be allowed to use social media at work. These points are that blocking social media is pointless because employees expect to use it and will find ways around such bans, it is an important communication tool and that blocking social media does not increase productivity in the way employers hope it will.
Blocking social media
Blocking social media is expensive and often futile and it is more effective to develop a social media policy that employees and employers are comfortable with. There is no point in attempting to block social media because many young people understand how networks operate and have the desire and will to get around any barriers to social media that the employer puts in place. According to recent surveys the majority of millennial students and professionals believe that they should be allowed to access social media on the devices that they use for work. On top of that, many of these young people state that they would break the policies if the company tried to ban them (Thomson, 2012). This finding shows that although employees might pay to take steps to block employee access to social media, there is a good chance that employees will simply work around these barriers. In the workplace environment, employees assume that they should be trusted to make good decisions about how to use social media. Employers need to consider that banning everything is a narrow minded way of looking at the problem and in the end will not work because it communicates to their employees that they are not trusted (Warr, 2008) Lack of trust can be detrimental for employee relations and makes it harder for employers to motivate or encourage their workers. This is not to suggest that companies should allow employees to do whatever they want on social media inside the workplace and using workplace equipment. Instead companies can choose to take a positive and proactive approach to social media. Developing a social media use policy can help employees to understand how they are allowed to use information systems. By getting employees involved in the implementation of these policies, companies can improve the likelihood that their employees will cooperate with the rules (Mitrou & Karyda, 2006).Therefore companies that are worried about their employees use of social media should engage with them and help to come up with a social media use policy that all parties can support rather than trying to simply block access
Social networking as an important communication tool
In addition to the futility in blocking social media, employers should consider that social networking is an important communication tool that employees can use to connect with each other and with customers. Social media provides a way for employees to collaborate on projects together in an easier way, even when they are not in the same location or even the same country. Social media, along with other forms of computer mediated technology help employees to form teams that are more accessible, convenient and flexible than traditional face to face meetings (Stern & Taylor, 2007). By making it easier to access colleague’s employees can engage in more frequent and convenient communication with one another. Within the organization, social media and networking provides a way to improve knowledge sharing efficiency across the firm in ways that might not have been possible before. Social networking in particular can be a useful tool for employees to use because it increases the ability to share information between people who are separated by time and space and can help to create groups that act as reference and aids (Ferreira & Du Plessis, 2009). These types of groups can help employees to solve problems faster and can even act as mentors to other workers within the company. Along with their employees, social media is also a way for companies to speak with their customers in a more natural way. Customers in the modern age prefer to have a personal connection with the companies that impact their lives. The traditional model of corporate public relations is that all of the messages come from a centralized department. People can be suspicious of this kind of communication. Having employees speak for the company is seen as more legitimate and can make customers think the company is more transparent (Patel & Jasani, 2010). Thus social media and networking has an enormous advantage in terms of improving communication.
Banning social media does not lead to an increase in productivity
Banning social media does not lead to an increase in productivity and there is evidence that workers who can access social media are actually more productive than their blocked counterparts. Social media actually makes it easier and more effective for employees to carry out their jobs. For many employees, a large part of their day is devoted to communication such as writing or responding to emails and searching for information. This could be completed much more efficiently using social media technology, possibly by up to 25%, which comes out to an enormous savings in time and money for the company (Manyika, Chui, & Sarrazin, 2012). Additionally, social media can make employees more effective at maintaining close contact in a way that reduces the amount of time they spend networking. Part of the work that employees have to is maintain their social network. Prior to social media, employees would have to spend a lot of time paying attention to this social network but with social media, this prices has become more efficient Nard(2002) as cited in (Bennett, Owers, Pitt, & Matthew Tucker, 2010).Social media can actually form a critical productivity tool within modern organizations. For some organizations, the ability to connect using social media and social networking actually improve the way the organization functions. This is especially true for international companies where social media is an important tool for connecting employs, improving retention and increasing employee satisfaction (Barker, 2008).
Social media can potentially distract employees, however companies must accept that these technologies are a part of the world that we live in now. Rather than resisting them, they should work with employees to come up with policies that both parties can agree upon. These rules should help to maintain the trust between the employer and the employees while keeping the company safe from employee misconduct. In doing so, the employer will reap the benefits of greater communication between employees and with the company’s customers as well as improved productivity and effectiveness from the workers.
Barker, P. (2008). How Social Media Is Transforming Employee Communications at Sun Microsystems. Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 7-14.
Bennett, J., Owers, M., Pitt, M., & Matthew Tucker. (2010). Workplace impact of social networking. Property Management,(28), 138 – 148.
Ferreira, A., & Du Plessis, T. (2009). Effect of online social networking on employee productivity. South African Journal of Information Management, 11(1), 1-11.
Manyika, J., Chui, M., & Sarrazin, H. (2012). Social Media’s Productivity Payoff. Harvard Business Review, 1-2. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/08/social-medias-productivity-pay/
Mitrou, L., & Karyda, M. (2006). Employees’ privacy vs. employers’ security: Can they be balanced? Telematics and Informatics, 23(3), 164–178.
Patel, N., & Jasani, H. (2010). Social Media Security Policies;Guidelines for organizationsq. Issues in Information Systems, XI(1), 628-633.
Peoples, G. (2013). Communication Breakdown. Billboard, 125(3), 1-2.
Stern, L. A., & Taylor, K. (2007). Social Networking on Facebook. Journal of the Communication, Speech & heatre Association of North Dakota, 20, 9-20.
Thomson, G. (2012). BYOD: enabling the chaos. Network Security, 2012(2), 5–8.
Warr, W. A. (2008). Social software: fun and games, or business tools? Journal of Information Science, 34(4), 591-604.