Tag Archives: social media in the workplace

Social Media in the Workplace, Beneficial or Productivity Killer?

Can social media be beneficial to your business?

A big controversy today exists on the matter of whether or not social media in the workplace is beneficial or a productivity killer. Pros and cons of each side make a consensus difficult to reach. Some firms view the accessing of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook during work hours as an attack on productivity. Although employees may be blocked from sites on their work computers, any smart phone still offers easy access. Communicating with business contacts and peers is often considered a productive networking tool. So where do businesses draw the line?

How does social media traffic impact business efficiency? How much time are younger generation employees spending on Facebook? It is technologically feasible to block access to a website that is a productivity problem, but is it necessary? One approach is to view social media sites as a communication tool and determine which groups of people in a business need access to it. For those who need unrestricted access to potential clients or are tasked to improve operations, the resources offered through these sites are critical.

One extreme or the other does not seem to be the answer. For employees who are not executing their job and are incapable of limiting their time on social media sites, global blocking is an option to consider versus terminating these people who do not seem to be able to self-police their own impulses. However, global blocking is impractical in that this easy way out does not solve the underlying problem. Lack of trust has a huge impact on employee satisfaction in the workplace as well as recruiting and retention efforts.

Consider these following solutions when social media in the workplace starts to be an issue:

1) Time Restrictions – Restrict the time that these sites can be accessed to a certain window each day. For example, pick a two hour window around the lunch hour. The time restriction shows employees that the activity is not necessarily supported during business hours but the company realizes that employees need access.

2) Group Restrictions – Restrict the groups that are allowed access to these sites. Have different access permissions based on the different roles of the employees in the business. If a group has not been granted access and feels that it is needed, have them submit a proposal outlining the reasons why.

3) Identify Abusers – Have your employees sign a policy that outlines their code of conduct concerning online activities. Then use the proxy servers to isolate the top users of certain sites to see if they are abusing their privileges.

4) Review Websites – Review the different social media sites to determine their intended purpose. Obviously Facebook and LinkedIn are different sites and offer distinct advantages and disadvantages.

5) Clarify Expectations – Spell out what you require from your employees. Let them know your productivity milestones so they are able to reach them. Use policies to explain how certain sites are to be used in the workplace.

There is a huge benefit to using social media sites but it is important that balance is maintained. Employees need to understand the value of personal productivity and develop a strong work ethic. Generally removing temptation or micromanaging behavior does not solve the problems as inherently employees will find another way to goof off or access these sites. In certain cases, the implementation of selective blocking may be necessary but this is where the above solutions come into play, such as time and group restrictions. It is also important to keep in mind that websites constantly evolve based on the needs of the user and the environment of the Internet. A site that may seem unnecessary at the time might offer a new opportunity in the future.

Next in line for Social Media in the Workplace: “Workplace Policies on Social Media”

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