With the growth of social media and online social communications has come a headache for organisations – should we give our employees access to social media?
The natural fear of any board member will be that if access to social media is granted then productivity will drop through the floor as employees merrily Facebook and Twitter each other (Facebook and Twitter are now verbs, right?). That’s why around half of UK organisations refuse their employees access to social media.
Are the fears justified? Well, employees may be tempted to spend time updating their social networks, but the biggest fear in most organisations is employees talking negatively about work on social networks. The easy solution is to stop them access to it full stop.
But it might not be as simple as that. One in three adults in the UK now has a smart phone (although the data did not say how many were able to use it!). As such, there is very little stopping employees from picking up their smart phone and accessing social media while sat at their desk – and probably using the office wireless too!
And if you have a concern about employees complaining on the internet about work, then they are probably doing it anyway! Indeed, there is an example of a North West England based organisation which banned its employees from Facebook, so the employees started their own group anyway! The company was only aware when the group was accidently stumbled upon by a manager.
My opinion is that social media is such an important channel for the future that access should be granted. If you trust your employees to email and talk to customers, then why shouldn’t they be trusted with social media. It shows respect and trust in your employees and you should cover any foreseeable issues in a robust social media policy.
Ultimately, people will access social media one way or another, so legitimise it, show that you trust your employees and its one less thing for employees to complain about on social media!