In our last blog post, we covered the reasons why employers are blocking social media access at work. This week, we are going to take a look at the benefits of allowing access to social media.
First of all, doing business these days without social media is near impossible, at least for growth-minded organizations that want to effectively reach the digital generation. Nine in 10 companies now use social media for business purposes such as marketing, recruiting, sales and customer service.
“Employers have been able to harness social media for all sorts of benefits, not only with the products they sell or the services they provide, but also as a boon to employee morale.” said employment law expert Daniel Handman.
Also, a study from Millennial Branding and American Express about workplace expectations discovered that 69 percent of Gen Y workers feel they should be able to access social media at work without restrictions. With millennials set to become the majority of workers, it could be a bad idea to block access if you want to keep them engaged and retain them.
“There will always be employees who waste time,” said digital communications expert Shel Holtz. “There always have been, long before computers were introduced to the workplace. Addressing this problem is a management issue, not a technological one.”
In fact, some experts believe social media can actually help improve productivity — and recent research seems to support that point. A study conducted at the University of Melbourne found that employees who reward themselves between tasks with a visit to a social networking site get 9 percent more work done than those who are barred from using social media.
“Time spent on Facebook might seem like time wasted, and banning it makes sense on the surface,” said Angelo Kinicki, professor of management at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “But when people go to work, do they sit and concentrate and work for eight hours straight? No, our minds can’t take that level of concentration.”
Nearly two-thirds of employees surveyed say the ability to use social media at work makes them more efficient. Additionally:
Perhaps even more to the point, allowing social media use at work might be a key factor in attracting — and retaining — top talent. Nearly seven in 10 workers in the Millennial generation feel they should have unrestricted access to social media at work, and a full quarter of American employees say they would turn down a job if social media access were blocked.
“Cutting out social media entirely might not be a good solution if you want to keep morale high and retain your best people,” said entrepreneur Ilya Pozin.
We made it a point to remind employers that even if they block social media at work, they still need a social media policy and to reinforce that policy with training. This is doubly important for companies that allow employees to access social media at work.
For example, even if an employee is using their own personal Facebook account to sexually harass a coworker, the employer could still be held accountable. And that’s just one reason why it’s essential to have a policy and train on it.
Allowing employees access to social media at work helps make them more efficient. It also helps to retain and engage millennial employees. But employers also need to be aware of social media misuse. So to reduce your risks, it’s important to create policies and implement social media training.
Deciding whether to block or allow social media access is a big decision for every company, and it’s not one to make lightly. Ultimately, business leaders need to remember that “the future of business is a networked future,” Holtz said. “Employers who figure out the right balance will be more competitive. Those that don’t will be left behind.”
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