Social media is the collective of online communication channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration. The technology allows users to interact with each other via desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Keeping up with the times, organisations use social media to control and promote their business, and it is often used as a form of communication amongst employees, managers, and job applicants. However, social media can create problems for employers with internal issues such as cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, time theft, defamation, and freedom of speech.
Employers must create a policy that outlines what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour when using social media at work. Examples should be given to the employees, to make the company’s policy clear. This policy should also include how the company expects employees to use the internet, networking websites, and emails during working hours. Overall, the policy should aim to protect employees from online bullying and protect the organisation’s reputation.
During recruitment, employers may be tempted to search their applicants on social media. This can be seen an unfair and discriminatory to the applicants if the employer doesn’t like the content they share on their profiles.
Employers need to outline the boundaries between using social media for business and private use. Acceptable behaviour during private use should include what the employee can and cannot say about the business when online. If an employee is representing their employer online, they must consider what is acceptable to share.
Social media enables employees to make professional connections outside of the company. These relationships can lead to other opportunities, for example, sales leads, business opportunities, and interest in employment. Employees can also build relationships with their co-workers through social media. These relationships can then form into long-standing friendships in and outside of the workplace leading to better morale, increase employee engagement, and productivity.
The majority of employers encourage their employees to take a break during work hours. Having access to social media enables workers to have short mental breaks throughout the day. Some employees may go to another room to take a break whereas using social media can be done at the employee’s desk.
Employees who are frustrated with something they have experienced at work may take to social media and share how they feel about the situation. This can have an adverse impact on impact on businesses reputation.
Another issue is that easy access to colleague comes with a risk of cyberbullying or harassment. Employers have a duty of care to take action against an employee who is bullying or discriminating another employee and so need to step in and take action in these cases.
For some employees, social media may be used during the day for short breaks. However, other employees may struggle to stay off social media, and this can dramatically affect their work performance. It’s not all doom and gloom. Social media does have a place in the office, so long as employers make their employees aware of what is and isn’t acceptable social media behaviour.
If you need advice or guidance on creating a social media policy, please contact a member of the oneHR team:
T: 0844 800 5932