The influx of digital technology is heavily influencing changes in company culture. Gone are those days when employees had to pore overprinted corporate publications to keep abreast with what’s happening around them.
Social media is the culprit in this change of mindset as people now find reading the office newsletter in its printed version boring and slow.
Companies cannot deny or ignore the fact that social media largely affect employee behavior and workplace dynamics. And among the arising issues with the prevalence of social media is how companies manage how their employees use it during office hours.
The effects of social media at work
People have a psychological need to interact with others. And more often than not, they turn to social media to fulfill this need.
Social media is a communication tool and through it, employees find the means to interact with both their colleagues and clients. So instead of having to use up time, money, and energy to travel in going to meetings, messages can easily get across through online communication.
Access to social media offers several other advantages. Companies can also use social media as an effective marketing tool for businesses. With a clear understanding of how to make use of the space that social media provides, businesses can easily turn to it for advertising and effective communication with their target audiences.
The “no social media” policy, and why companies still use it
There are some companies, however, that still make use of a “no social media” policy for reasons of productivity and privacy.
While it is important for information dissemination, social media can also distract attention, especially for younger employees who are used to being online most of the time. Employees become less productive since they’re spending too much time scrolling through their Facebook feeds, Twitter timelines or Instagram posts. Or even LinkedIn interactions and connections.
Companies tend to believe that social media lowers productivity but according to a number of studies, such as from the Harvard Business Review, social media actually boosts productivity and makes employees more engaged. But while it motivates employees to come up with innovative ideas, there is a big possibility that employees are also most likely to leave the company with the prospects of potential new employers that can result from the online interactions.
Furthermore, privacy issues also pose a concern that both employers and employees always have to look out for. Some employers monitor their employees’ social media activities to ensure productivity and efficiency. Monitoring should nevertheless be done using the right tools to avoid invading the privacy of the employees.
Making it work
Even with its disadvantages, social media proves to be a useful instrument, especially for millennials and Gen Z employees who are so used to using it. And with the younger generations now taking over the workforce, it’s even more important to incorporate social media into the workplace.
Here are some points to remember when creating social media policies:
- Involve the staff. By allowing employees to engage in creating social media policies, the rules can be discussed more fairly and they won’t feel like policies are simply being imposed onto them.
- Establish and clearly define the purpose of the policies. If employees don’t fully understand why those rules are being set in place, it’s possible that they’re less likely to follow.
- Communicate the benefits of the policies. Once it’s clear what the policies are for, employers should highlight the good that comes from regulating social media use.
- Remember to stress the importance of confidentiality and proper conduct online. While it’s probably already known by all employees that they should observe proper decorum both online and offline, it would still be good to remind them that they’re still at the workplace and that they need to act accordingly even on social media.
- Don’t be too restrictive with the policies. As mentioned, employees won’t take to a social media ban. The best thing to do is to advocate proper usage and understanding of social media in the workplace.
Social media has become significantly influential in the lives of many that it’s almost impossible to avoid it, which is exactly why companies should learn to embrace it. Employees then should be responsible enough in using it during office hours. By striking the right balance, social media can be an effective tool in building companies and ensuring success in the workplace.