Social media in the workplace- Should you allow it or not? It is a relevant but debatable topic.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are well-known examples of social media platforms, but social media can be of different types. Such channels may include Internet forums, online profiles, podcasts, blogs, photos and video, text and instant messages services. Other than these, there are music streaming applications, and audio services based on the internet, to name a few.
During a workday, employees use social media in different ways. But more frequently, we see employees- Instagram what they had for lunch, share memes, and post selfies on Facebook
A survey from 2012 showed that workers spend an average of 1.5 hours a day at work on social media. That results in 7.5 hours every week, more than 30 hours every month, and 390 hours squandered a year! Also, that does not consider other regular interruptions like chit-chatting with colleagues, coffee breaks, and attending individual messages/calls.
According to the Pew Research Centre in 2014, 77 percent of staff reported using social media in the workplace. It is despite the fact that huge numbers of businesses ban the use of social media in the workplace. Whereas others have specific policies about its use on the job. Thus, employees can strongly be present in social media irrespective of all the efforts companies take to curtail their use.
At the same time, many workers offer companies direct benefits by improved social media enabled contact, advertisement, and networking. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been commonly considered successful places to create deeper connections with consumers or partners. Wouldn't it be a mistake to think that social media in the workplace are always being used for personal reasons?
Research has revealed that 82 percent of workers agree that social networking will strengthen working relationships. Again, 60 percent believe that social networking supports the decision making process, helping them collaborate, share ideas, and solve problems. Among the 18 to 24-year-olds, 5% see social networking as an 'entitlement.' And, almost half of them would not work with an organization that banned its use.
However, as social media is increasingly coming to the fore, employers and managers are faced with a tough decision. Will the employees be permitted to use social media at work at all? There are many 'what ifs' and 'why not' in this debate. As a result, it gets difficult for organizations to decide what could be the best for them.
We have made a list of pros and cons of using social media in the workplace. You can refer to before allowing your employees to use it.
Advantages Of Using Social Media In The Workplace
1. Improves employee engagement
Allowing employees to take short breaks for social networking throughout the day will boost mood, which will potentially increase employee engagement. It will strengthen their confidence and happiness and make them feel valued. It can help your employees to feel happy, loyal, and satisfied, resulting in increased productivity.
Similarly, recognizing your employees for their efforts over social media can make them feel valued and appreciated.
2. Strengthens workplace relationships
Having a friend at work is a blessing, and social media plays a significant role in forming healthy relationships. It is the simplest way to encourage contact between workers and help exchange thoughts and improve interaction at work and home. When workers know they are valuable and have positive connections in their company, they are more likely to stay.
3. Boosts employer brand
Social media is a fantastic way to create a good awareness of your business. If you allow the employees to post nice stuff about the organization, it can be helpful for you. If they share insightful articles and videos, and demonstrate how much they enjoy their work, it will improve the employer brand.
Brand surveys and campaigns can also be done on different social media sites.
LinkedIn is such an excellent professional networking site that can create a lot of positive buzz about your company. It can easily convey your company culture and can attract talents who will blend in well. Digital natives also use social networking as a means of development opportunities.
Isn’t this of much value to your business?
4. Helps improve employee recognition and retention
Your organization can acknowledge exemplary achievement in social media platforms. It can be anything from outstanding performances, job anniversaries to welcoming new recruits. Such appreciation allows employees to improve communication and helps to create cohesiveness in teams.
Social media can reduce employee turnover for businesses. Evolv, a big data company, has identified a correlation between social media site usage and improved retention. According to their analysis, workers who used one to four social media platforms stayed longer at their jobs than their peers. They took a sample size of 39,112 employees.
5. Enhance employee learning
Employee development and learning is a must to update and upgrade the existing skills of the workforce. Social media can create learning opportunities for employees, expanding knowledge, and developing personal skills. We come across so many different articles across social media about how to be a better leader, team member, etc. We can find excellent research, business statistics, debates, and news stories to dive in and flourish.
Thus, social media can be a vital forum for information exchange for staff at all levels. They can use blogs, microblogs, and following professionals and communities of similar practice. Such resources and communities allow social networking collaboration platforms to boost quality and workflow for the job. It can work as a collaborative tool, improving workflow.
Disadvantages Of Using Social Media In The Workplace
1. Brings down productivity
Too much of everything is dangerous and social media is no exception. A huge amount of time would be lost if workers are permitted to access social media in the workplace. Spending too much time on social media can also divert the mind from work to online attractions. It will bring down productivity in no time.
In fact, a recent study says, "70% of businesses reported having to take disciplinary action against employees for social media misuse." Thus, business managers should be able to maintain a fine balance between encouraging social media for more productivity and addiction.
2. Increase technical risks
Hacking, viruses, and scams are too common these days, and many of them come from social media. If you don't have proper protection, accessing social media in the workplace may be a significant risk. Again, employees with malicious intent pose a more significant threat to personal data rather than cyber criminals.
3. Cause 'social media fails'
Irresponsible comments and posts quickly get viral and can destroy the organization's image in seconds. It can annoy your clients and bring massive public outrage against you. There are so many examples of social media fails that got people fired and have ruined corporations.
4. Breed jealousy among employees
People post personal things on social media. It may be about possessing a new house, a new car, or a new piece of jewelry. It can create envy among peers.
One can also use those posts to annoy and mock people in the office. It can drag down employee morale and, therefore, the organization's efficiency.
I believe, like most other things in life, balance is the key to this too. If you ban it, employees will anyway find a way to access their social media profiles (through their mobile phones.) Thus, rather than policing their social media presence, encourage employees to utilize it productively.