Social Media – Company Policy
Company policy around Social Media is fast becoming a hot topic of conversation around the water coolers in the workplace. In some cases employees are getting clobbered with harsh discipline for things they didn’t even know there was a policy on. With the increasing use of many social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc., employers are struggling with what is and is not appropriate for use during company time and even outside of the normal business hours. Social media has become an important and everyday component of how we now communicate, and it is certainly spilling over into the workplace. In terms of what is or is not appropriate for use at work, confusion abounds!!!
An overall philosophy statement used now by many companies often looks something like this: “While you are on company time, please refrain from online activities that don’t bring value to the Company. Think of your personal time online just as you think of personal phone calls or emails.” Many managers would say they have a very significant time theft issue going on in the workplace (unproductive social media use) and also that it is not that easy to deal with or properly address. Sound familiar?
Many employers now block access to certain websites such as game sites, social networking sites, entertainment sites, shopping/auction sites and sports sites. Some companies even use URL blocks to stop employees from visiting external blogs.
The other side of all this is the fact that social networking sites are a valuable part of marketing and advertising in today’s market from a business perspective. Many organizations are figuring out how to leverage off this, as an example, having a corporate Facebook page for all employees to contribute to.
Many managers would tell you they are having difficulty in drawing the line on use of social media in the workplace. I often hear that employees want access so they can communicate at lunch or on breaks as this is the best way they know of quickly getting up to date with everything going on as opposed to even a few years ago when numerous (more time consuming) phone calls would serve the same purpose. What is an employer to do when an employee has MSN open all day on their PC so they can communicate with their spouse who is at home with the newborn? Every time the employee hears a “bling” they stop what they are doing and connect online with their spouse. Get the point – where is the dividing line? Employers need to take into consideration that social media has quickly become an important and significant cultural mainstay with how people choose to communicate, especially the younger generations.
So, what is the answer then? Some companies for example have a very simple blogging policy which says. “Please be smart in your online activities. They reflect on both you and the company. The ability to publish things that never go away and can be forwarded endlessly, well, it gives us pause, and we hope it does you, too.”