Should Employees Be Able to Use Social Media at Work?

McKeown provides four tips for hiring great people: 1) Forget trying to ask magic bullet questions, 2) Ensure you have clearly defined what it will take to be successful in the position, 3) Test candidates, and 4) Include others in the hiring process.

Is it really a good idea to let your employees use social media at work? Does it improve or deteriorate their performance? And does it benefit the company in any way? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Benefits of having access to social media at work

It’s always good to have a break
Repetitive tasks often become boring and tiring. Science says it’s necessary to take small breaks every now and then to stay focused and to maintain productivity.
A valuable news source
Users of social media are constantly able to keep in touch with the latest news. This enables them to get new ideas which may have a positive impact on what they do at work. The information on social media can also help them to brainstorm better and come up with beneficial ideas for the company.
Establishing useful connections
Having personal connections in the world of business is of great importance. Your connections allow you to access resources and find people who can help you in various tasks. Social media can also be used by your employees to share work related material and stay in touch with colleagues who are working at remote locations.
Establishing a relationship of trust
Letting your employees have free access to social media can also portray a positive and trusting image of you in their minds. This would help boost their morale and motivate them to work harder.

Cons of having access to social media at work

A waste of time
One of the biggest concerns about allowing workers to use social media at the workplace is the wastage of precious time. Employees may become so involved in chatting with friends on social media that they neglect to perform their daily tasks in an efficient manner. The workflow of the business can also be hurt and this could cost the company dearly.
Harmful for the company
Distraction is not the only problem caused by the use social media at work. Employees may also accidentally post sensitive and confidential information which may harm the company’s interests or give away important details about the company.
Cyber security issues
The employees may inadvertently download malware and viruses which could jeopardize the functioning of the company’s network.
Cyber bullying
There have been cases of workers harassing their colleagues. Sexual harassment or bullying is a serious problem which could be devastating for the company’s work environment.

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Final verdict?

It depends. Would it appropriate in your business, or within in specific job roles for your employees to have access to their mobile devices (security, public-facing, etc)? If not, then, the answer may be a no-brainer. But if that’s not the case, you have to decide where you priorities lie and what you want your workplace culture to represent.
If you’re a stakeholder in this decision, the ultimate question is: what kind of company do we want to be? In a world that is increasingly interested in a better work/live balance, banning devices completely may be a bad move. If you are perceived as being too autocratic and mistrustful, your retention rates may suffer.
Either way you decide to go, having a very clear and concise social media policy is crucial. Check out these examples.