- Pros and Cons of Social Media in the workplace

First question; do you have any private social media accounts? Now be honest, just between us, have you ever looked at them during working time or made comment about your employer or colleagues? Did you stop and think about the potential consequences before you pressed the ‘post’ button? With the influence of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.), together with the rise in popularity of smartphones, it is vitally important to have an effective social media policy in place within your organisation.

Conscientious use of social media can bring excellent business opportunities and foster great relationships with staff, but improper use can risk bringing a Company into disrepute or infringing the right to privacy of colleagues. Therefore, your Company’s social media policy should reflect both the benefits and downsides of social media use in the workplace.
Here we look at a few pros and cons to using social media platforms at work. Let’s start with the positives…

Productivity

Have you noticed how hard it is to maintain optimum focus and work solidly on one project for hours on end? For many people, social media offers a respite from the pressures of the workday. Being able to take a mental break, provided it is not too long or overly distracting, can actually increase your employees’ productivity, and even their creativity and problem-solving skills. Would you consider allowing staff to access their social media accounts whilst on a ‘coffee break’ for ten minutes in the morning and/or afternoon?

Employee Engagement

Taking short breaks throughout the day to go onto social media can help boost employees’ moods, whether they are using it for catching up on connections, reading the latest news, or looking at entertainment sources. It can also boost their happiness if they are connecting with loved ones and close friends. Happy employees will likely be more personable, productive, and thanks to your kindness in granting them social media breaks, loyal!

Social Currency

Social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn are popular for growing businesses and brands. Allowing your employees to post news and share photos and videos relating to your Company, effectively makes them ‘brand ambassadors’, extending your reach and presenting you favourably to potential clients and customers to whom you may have little access otherwise. Of course, it is essential to make sure you have those aforementioned happy employees to make this one work!

Now, a few cons to be wary of…

Misuse

We included social media use as a ‘pro’ for increasing productivity by allowing for mental breaks from work. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing! Misuse can include spending inordinate amounts of time on social media while neglecting your paid work, speaking negatively of the workplace and harming the Company’s reputation, oversharing to an extent that damages colleagues’ and clients’ opinions of each other, and can even go so far as bullying and harassment of other colleagues. Careful consideration needs to be taken when writing your social media policy to ensure that it is not left ambiguous and open to mis-interpretation.

Risks to Cyber-Security

With the rising number of cybersecurity breaches reported of late (for example: hacking, fraud, viruses, scams), it is vital to protect your personal and Company information online. Along with being great vehicles for communication and sources of information, social media platforms can be an open door to cyber-attacks and privacy breaches. It goes without saying that a poorly-protected company network, combined with staff who may not be as computer-savvy as you may like, could inadvertently invite a number of unwanted problems.

Damage to Company Reputation

There are ways that social media can inadvertently (or intentionally!) lead to significant damage to a company’s name, brand or reputation. It could be via accidentally revealing confidential personal or Company information or writing a private message that is then sent out publicly by mistake. It could be through a post that does not translate well from the spoken word to the written word and is taken as aggressive or argumentative in tone by those reading it. And of course, there is always the danger of a disgruntled employee taking to their social media accounts to sabotage your Company’s good name.

When it comes to social media use in the workplace, it is important to find the right balance. You don’t want your employees wasting hours on social media, but an all-out ban may lead to wreckless misuse in other ways beyond your control.

How effective is your company’s current social media policy? Does it advise employees on how much time they can spend on their personal platforms and when this is appropriate to do so i.e. lunch and tea breaks; not whilst at their desk etc.? What Company information is and isn’t allowed to be publicly shared and are employees permitted to use their personal accounts for work posts? Can these be posted during work time? Does your social media policy have appropriate restrictions in place? Finally, do your employees know the potential consequences of breaching your company’s policies?

If you would like advice or help on how to ensure both your organisation and your employees are in a good position when it comes to successful social media use, contact us on 01582 883299 or email su@suallen.co.uk.