Paul Wherly

For or against: Social Media in the Office

In the last 10 years social media has grown significantly in it’s usage and become an integral part of running a business,  it’s a particularly useful marketing tool for enterprises of all shapes and sizes. However, from an employer’s perspective, social networking sites are not always good news. While it’s essential that your employees can access social networking sites in order to promote your company’s products and events, and to engage with existing clients and potential new customers, it can be difficult to prevent workers from using these sites to conduct their personal affairs. Traditionally, many employers have blocked access to social media sites in the office, to prevent employees from managing their personal affairs on business time.  With the overwhelming popularity of smartphones,  internet-ready devices like tablet PCs and the ability to connect to social networks using Microsoft Outlook, it’s almost impossible to prevent employees from using social networking sites during office hours.

Social media also presents another dilemma for many employers.

While it’s not desirable for workers to have unlimited access to social networking sites during office hours, some networking sites are specifically aimed at the business market. Allowing employees to have a presence on these websites can be a positive step for your business, driving internet traffic to your company website and boosting the profile of your business. What’s more, social media can be a force for good or bad in the recruitment sector. Professional networking sites are useful when scouting for new employees, as they allow you to learn more about candidates’ career history and professional achievements as well as providing the opportunity to connect potential employees. Some social media sites (especially LinkedIn) can also be useful in learning more about an individual’s professional profile. However, personal pages on social networking sites can also reveal the less desirable aspects of a candidate’s personal or professional life, as many potential recruits have learnt the hard way.

Perhaps the most effective way of managing usage of social media in the office is through carefully structured training.

Why not run courses for your employees in the sensible and effective use of social networking sites at work. Such training might include talks from HR managers on the importance of maintaining privacy and discretion on personal pages, as well as tips on how to maximise social networking sites for marketing and PR purposes. Such courses might be internally led, or could be conducted by a specialist outside agency; these are effective as they educate employees on the appropriate usage of social media in the office, without undermining their ability of criticising their behaviour. Social media is a must-have tool for employers as it has many uses in diverse fields including marketing and recruitment. Nevertheless, both employers and employees need to be aware of the importance of discretion and of keeping personal and professional accounts separate. To protect your business and make the best of social media in the office, encourage your employees to use the privacy settings on their personal accounts and ensure that work matters are not discussed in the social networking sphere. With careful management, social media is a real asset to any company, so ensure that it is used wisely to get the best from this essential tool. What is your company policy on Social Media?  Are you for or against it’s use at work. You can follow me on Twitter @shelleyfishel or connect with me on LinkedIN and follow The IT Training Surgery on Facebook Shelley Fishel

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