Social media has become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine living without it. It’s currently one of the primary ways by which people keep in touch with their friends, acquaintances, loved ones, and the like. Social media sites have also become important in that they allow people to discover communities and other people who share their passions and interests. In fact, a lot of the information (viral or otherwise) spread over the Internet these days is primarily spread through social networks. This is why many businesses are using social media to promote their products and services and hire people.
Ironically, though, some of these same businesses are unwilling to allow their social media into their companies. That is to say, they are still wary of the effects that social media as it is used by their employees.
Why companies are afraid of social media in the workplace
According to an infographic by SilkRoad (posted on many sites and blogs like the RingCentral Blog), many employers feel that blocking social media sites like Facebook is justified. In fact, 75% of the respondents interviewed for the said infographic feel that their companies’ social media policies are woefully behind the curve
Among other things, many businesses still seem to think that restricting social media access and asking for social media passwords are perfectly fine. While the infographic itself doesn’t discuss the reasons why this is so (apart from mentioning the fear of industrial espionage), the RingCentral blog entry that shares it has its own theories. Apart from the fear of espionage, blogger Baochi Nguyen cites loss of productivity, highly public complaints about internal matters, and breach of confidentiality.
Why you really should allow your employees to have social media access in the workplace
Despite these somewhat valid misgivings, the fact of the matter is that allowing your employees social network privileges while at work has more positive than negative effects. Not only does it boost employee morale, it also does wonders for internal teamwork and external promotions. Furthermore, it keeps companies open to new ideas that can lead to important innovations for the brand. When you allow social media access in the workplace, your employees are more likely to be engaged with the company and thus more eager to come to its support when necessary.
In the same RingCentral post, Ms. Nguyen shares that RingCentral employees are encouraged to share great RingCentral news through their social media channels. Any problems that personal social network account use in the office may have are addressed through clear guidelines, and are thus avoided. If simple guidelines can basically deal with all the concerns one may have over social media in the workplace, then we shouldn’t have to rely on blanket restrictions and absolute control.
A last note on some company policies with regards to Social Media
As was mentioned before, two things that companies seem to do as part of their social media policies are to ask for passwords and to limit (if not completely block) social networks. As simple as these blanket policies might seem at first, they can be ultimately harmful for the company.
Right now, asking for the password means you’re opening yourself up to accusations of discrimination, invasion of privacy, and the like. Meanwhile, blocking social media access altogether can incur protests regarding personal freedom and freedom of speech. That’s not even covering the backlash you can get from being listed as an entity that violates privacy terms on various sites.
In the end, it’s much better to have social media in the workplace with policies that moderate usage during company time.