Do Work and Using Social Media Mix?

As social media becomes as much of a communications tool as e-mail, a major question facing many employers is whether they should let their employees use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MySpace, etc. during working hours.

For employers, there are a few key considerations:

– How does social media use affect productivity? If people are spending time updating their Facebook status, posting tweets and uploading photos to Flickr, how much time does that take away from work?

– If you provide employees with access to social media services, how much of a risk is there that they will disclose corporate data and strategic plans – even if they aren’t blatantly doing it.

– How do you monitor and supervise what employees do on social media, particularly if it’s happening during work hours?

– What are the penalties for over-using social media?

Many companies have taken a drastic approach by simply not letting their employees use social media at work. It’s certainly one way to safeguard against any risks but it comes across as draconian.

Another approach is letting employees use social media but provide them with well-defined guidelines on what’s acceptable and unacceptable, what services they are allowed to use, and what’s a reasonable amount of time to be using social media.

This is a far more mature and pragmatic approach than simply banning social media. By providing well-articulated policies, companies are making responsible for their actions. It is a way to show employees that you respect their ability to make the right choices and decisions, while treating them as adults rather than children.

It’s also a way to encourage employees to embrace social media at a time when social media is becoming part of the corporate communications, marketing and sales arsenal. In some respects, letting them use social media is on the job training.

So, how does your company handle access to social media at work. Is it banned, or is it allowed? What about social media guidelines?

For more thoughts on social media at work, check out this article.

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