The above comic may poke fun at social media policies in the workplace, but it is an issue that abounds in offices everywhere. According to a survey conducted by eMarketer.com in April of this year, nearly four in 10 (39 per cent) U.S. companies surveyed still ban social media in the workplace and it is estimated that it costs businesses $2 billion USD in lost productivity globally each year.
While workplace productivity is an important issue, companies should not underestimate the benefits of allowing employees to engage in social networking, which may include:
Fostering employee camaraderie — Many social networking sites, like LinkedIn have company groups where employees can join, share stories and get to know their coworkers better. Positive employee commentary can also prove to be an effective marketing and recruitment tool.
Identifying business opportunities — Business development and sales professionals can source leads and develop professional relationships through networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
Promoting professional networking — Employees in a variety of departments including accounting, operations, marketing and IT can interact with peers and share best practices.
Recruiting potential candidates — Companies are increasingly turning to social media as a source for new employees. While an excellent tool for human resources and line managers, it may also allow employees to refer personal and professional contacts for internal opportunities.
Presenting a positive company image — While it is important to set guidelines, having employees engaging in online social communities is a great way to promote your brand. As long as comments are not disparaging towards competitors or divulge company information, your employees can be excellent brand ambassadors.
Foster morale and company loyalty — When employees are given a sense of freedom and ownership, more often than not they respect boundaries and manage their time accordingly. They may check social media before or after work or during their lunch break. As long as usage does not become excessive, allowing employees some liberties can improve motivation and morale.
While it is essential for companies to have a social media and internet policy, the pros of workplace access outweigh the cons. Managers should foster open and honest communication with their staff as the company enjoys the benefits of increased exposure and interaction within the online global marketplace.
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