You can’t escape social media and personal computer usage on the job – or can you? Many companies have implemented blogging and personal computer usage policies as part of their Employee Handbook and Information Technology Policy. The focus of such employee policies gives personal bloggers guidelines on how to reference their employer, their products and their services within their blogs or personal dealings on the internet. These guidelines are especially important given the Federal Trade Commissions guidelines to protect consumers from erroneous endorsements on social media and blogging sites. In response to the FTC guidelines, employers are strongly encouraged to specifically spell out what the company allows and doesn’t allow with respect to online comments about the company and its products.
While we do a good job addressing guidelines for personal blogging and computer usage, what many companies fail to address is how much personal access to social media and personal usage of computers can they tolerate on the job? I know what you’re thinking – “I don’t tolerate ANY personal use, let alone access to social media sites, while on the job.” But, is this really the best policy in today’s social media climate? Should employees be limited to NO personal use during the work day?
Many experts believe that in today’s technology climate, this is no longer reasonable and that allowing employee’s personal technology access can have positive effects on your workforce. Companies need to be realistic that social media is the way many people communicate. By limiting such communication you’re forcing employees to be “out of touch” completely while at work. This may make many employees uneasy and resent the organization’s stringent rules. Allowing them access to check Facebook or send personal emails throughout the day allows them to make a quick connection to the outside world. According to the Harvard Business Review, there can be additional positive results to allowing personal access to social media sites during work. An organization that is more accepting of social media in the workplace can be viewed by many people, especially those of the younger generations, as a more attractive and as a forward thinking organization. Often times we believe that if an employee is spending time surfing the net, that’s time they’re not working and thus, loosing productivity. Research has shown the opposite; allowing employees to take a quick break allows them to return to their work refocused and more productive. Lastly, employees feel appreciated and more engaged when employers acknowledge their interest to check and use social media. The employee feels like the organization trusts them to do the right thing and often times, that trust goes a long way.
Facebook, Twitter, blogging and social media sites are here to stay – so embrace this new technology and determine what makes sense for your organization and design employee policies to support it!
Nancy Saperstone is a Human Resource Consultant and Blogger for Insight Performance with over fifteen years of experience in Human Resources.
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