Social media is everywhere: there’s just no escaping it.
Or is there?
Many of your employees have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, YouTube, and other social media sites. The party line today is that’s how your younger workers “connect” with their friends and loved ones.
Your very company probably uses social media as a branding and marketing tool.
But there’s no getting around it: social media can be – and really too often is – a huge time suck.
So the question arises: should you allow your employees to access their social media accounts while on the job?
There’s no easy answer for this. The best answer probably is: it depends.
• It depends on if you feel employees will be spending too much time on their sites and neglecting their jobs (loss of productivity).
• It depends on if you have major concerns regarding what your employees are saying about you on their social media sites (are they possibly spouting slander/libel or other issues?).
• It depends on if you feel that restricting employees’ access to their social media accounts while they’re at work limits their right to free speech.
It’s definitely a sticky wicket.
The best thing you can do is to have a clear and very public social media policy in place (if you don’t have one, it’s time to get cracking on creating one!).
Most companies do allow employees to access social media while at work. Most tend to allow this access only on employees’ breaks (especially when accessing via company-owned technology, but also when employees check their own smartphones for their friends’ latest Facebook updates).
But even that kind of restriction is becoming passé (soooo 2005).
Employers are starting to understand that their employees think of social media as a huge part of their lives. Take it away and morale can sink…fast.
Restrict social media and your company could soon enough (very soon, considering how viral news can be) become known as the fuddy-duddy company and definitely not the place great employees would want to work.
That’s why it’s imperative that you put together a clear, easily understandable social media policy. It’s also wise to hold periodic social media training sessions for employees on your policy and it’s especially imperative that you hold these for new employees as soon as they start working for you.
You actually should have two policies: one for general employees, and one for the people who work on your social media marketing (these folks get more leeway).
Before you write your policy (or update it), research the National Labor Review Board’s (NLRB) rules and other national labor laws that may – or may not – protect your employees’ social media activity and posts.
Be exceptionally clear on when employees can access social media during the work day. Only during breaks (and what constitutes a break)? Never on their workstation computers and only on their own devices?
Drill your policy down to its core; make sure it’s no more than two-pages in length (no one will read it otherwise). Hold company-wide meetings at least once a year detailing the policy and any updates. Aim to warn people who violate the policy for the first or second times rather than punish them.
Social media can be a great tool to help your employees network and stay connected with friends and even customers and colleagues – even if they’re not a part of your social media management team. A policy can help employees understand how social media affects not only in their personal lives, but the “life” of their employer.