Social media in the workplace

Social media in the workplace


Social media has become an issue
in the workplace for three reasons. Firstly, it’s getting us to look at
some very familiar workplace issues, such as recruitment,
management performance and handling discipline and grievances
in a very new light. Secondly, social media
has started a very challenging but interesting debate about where we
stand on individual freedom of speech versus corporate control of the brand,
reputation and workplace behaviour. In other words, who can say what, where,
when and most importantly, how can they say,
what tools can they use. Thirdly, social media is
increasingly blurring the line between what we think of as
our work life and our home life. Some people would argue that
the idea of having a policy on something as instantaneous
as social media is not only counterintuitive,
it’s counterproductive. After all, isn’t the whole point of
something like social media that it just happens,
without the usual editorial constraints associated with more traditional
publishing. If we have a look at a couple of
issues of concern to employers, let’s take recruitment. Many employers are finding
that they can use social media to recruit candidates
more quickly and cheaply, and that’s got to be good news. But should employers also speed up
their recruitment process by screening the social networking sites
of potential candidates? Acas believes that responsibility here
lies with both employers and employees, Employers have to be careful about
making judgements about candidates based on
their social networking sites, because there’s the very real danger
of discrimination. Employees also need to be sensible here and review the privacy settings
on their pages, so they know who can read
the content they’re publishing. Now let’s look at the issue of
the work life divide. We know that many employees will use
their work computers in work time to book holidays or pay household bills. Some employers may regard this
time theft as a performance issue, and indeed for some workplaces
it may be a real concern. But are those same employees also sending work emails on their
smartphones on the way home, or at home, or outside normal working hours? Balance is the key here. Many employers are finding it’s better
to manage the task, or the project, rather than strictly managing time
as they would’ve done in the past. By providing guidelines
on these sorts of issues, employers can give employees
real clarity about how they should behave
on these key workplace issues. The top three tips on managing
social media at work would be, tip number one,
try and treat, wherever possible, online and offline behaviour
in the same way. Employees will often use social media
tools to let off steam, to have a moan about
their workplace or bosses. That’s not so different to going
down the café or pub, and doing the same thing. Employees may just need reminding about some of the pitfalls
of using technology in this way. Employers should take a balanced
approach and ask themselves what are the real implications
for their organisations of the employees behaving this way? Tip number two, you should try and keep
up to date with changes. Technology is clearly moving very fast, and it can be very tempting to leave
your policies and procedures on a shelf without updating them. For example, the policies on bullying and harassment might need a mention of cyber bullying,
for example. When it comes discipline and grievances, it might be worth mentioning
what constitutes misconduct. For example, when it comes
to things like defamation. And our third tip would be to try
and get the balance right, if you can, between individual expression,
in terms of allowing your employees to promote your organisation,
and trusting them to be advocates, and keep in control of your brand
and your key messages. A good tip here is to remind individuals when they’re speaking
on behalf of themselves, and when they’re speaking
for the organisation. Well, we listen to a lot of employers
and employees. We get over a million calls
to our helpline every year and run hundreds of
training and advisory projects. The clear message
we’re getting from employers is they feel uncertain about
setting standards of behaviour when it comes to social media
in the workplace. We commissioned our own research to take a snapshot of how social media
tools were being used in the workplace. We found that in the absence
of any agreed protocol, employers and employees were often
making it up as they went along. Social media can cut through traditional hierarchical structures
at work, and create vacuums where normal standards of behaviour
don’t seem to apply. That’s why we’re asking employers
to set down some simple guidelines so employees are clear about what is and what is not acceptable
behaviour in the workplace. This may just be a question
of referring them to existing standards of performance
and behaviour that apply elsewhere. Clarity is the key here so that employees
don’t have any misunderstandings about how they should behave,
and we can prevent potential conflict.

Author:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *