In today’s society, social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate, be it in our home or at work. But letting your employees use social media at workplace may sound counterproductive, doesn’t it? However, its correct utilization can provide excellent opportunities for companies in terms of public relations, internal and external communication, organizational and recruiting as well. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, 82% of the employees believe that social media can help them improve their relationships at the workplace. Moreover, 60% of them agreed that it helps in better decision-making. Yet, almost half of the employers still consider social media as a “productivity killer” and, considering this, blocked access to all social media platforms at work. By doing this, you are depriving your company of the potential values that come with employees posting about your company on social media and the interaction with your company’s social post. 

INTERESTING STATS: A 2016 research stated that 8 out 10 employees use social media at their workplace. In fact, 98% of the employees use social media for their personal use, out of which 50% are already posting about their company online. These numbers might have increased now.

Introducing social media at workplace is rather a questionable decision as it strongly depends on the way you implement it. Instead of giving full access to the employees, which can be rather distractive, you can allow them to use social media at workplace with some restrictions and focus on employer branding and social collaboration. Well, this doesn’t mean that you incentivize the employees for posting about your company, as this could create a bad culture in the workplace.

But if your workplace is good enough, your employees would willingly share it on their social media, which will ultimately benefit your brand and social media strategy. There are multiple benefits of using social media at workplace discussed later in the article. But first, let us see what are the consequences of blocking social media at workplace. 

Why Do Employees Use Social Media At Workplace?

It’s really important to understand your employee’s perspectives as it can make them unhappy, affecting their work. Here are some stats according to PW Research about employee’s purpose of using social media at workplace :

  • 34% of the employees use it to take a mental break from their job.
  • 27% of the employees use it to connect with friends and family while at work.
  • 24% of the employees use it to make or support professional connections.
  • 20% of the employees use it to get help and solve problems at work.
  • 17% of the employees use it to build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers and colleagues. 
  • 17% of the employees use it to learn about their coworkers and colleagues. 
  • 12% of the employees use it to ask work-related questions of people outside their organization.
  • 12% of the employees use it to ask such questions of people inside their organization. 

What Are The Problems Faced By Blocking Social Media At Workplace 

First off, ask yourself why you want to ban social media from your workplace. I’m sure you would not be having a satisfactory answer to this unless the case is worse. The case here is the same as that with any parent and child. Once a parent tells about something in plain sight that isn’t allowable, it becomes an obsessive addiction for the child.  

Banning social media at workplace is like challenging your employees to find other ways or adopt unfair means to use them. Therefore, it can be one of the most futile decisions at the workplace as it may enrage your employees. 

As long as the employees are using social media at workplace in a way that is related to work directly or indirectly, there is no harm. Instead of directly banning the use, you can provide them with guidelines for using it. 

This will be benefiting your company in return. 

Pros of Social Media At Workplace

Increase in employee engagement 

According to Research Gate, usage of social media at workplace results in increased employee engagement. In terms of energetic commitments, emotional focus, and intellectual awareness, all the ways through which engagement can be measured are covered by social media. 

By allowing the employees to access social media on the device on which they work, shows a sense of confidence and leadership towards the employees. Moreover, social media at workplace can also be used as a medium to form a central theme for engrossing the employees towards their work. When the employees recognize that their employers have confidence in them, it makes them feel much more responsible and answerable for their time on social media at workplace. According to TalentKeepers, “Engagement ultimately comes down to people’s desire and willingness to give discretionary effort.”

Multiple successful companies have adopted numerous social media platforms, internal use, and employee advocacy programs. Implementing an employee advocacy program creates a sense of brand navigation, collective social capital, and overall motivation. All these benefits are much more prominent if the employees use social media at workplace among themselves first before sharing it with outsiders or on external networks. 

Strengthens team bonds and improves communication

It’s true that not every employee is connected with everyone in workspace. Even after having multiple ways to communicate, there are more than 75% of employees who miss the important company updates. 

When social media was first introduced, it was predicted to be the most excellent means of communication of all time, similar to email and telephone. According to an investigation by buettner.ai, social media at workplace boosts communication and helps in building relationships. Allowing your employees to use social media and connect with an internal network helps in accessing proper knowledge, builds moral support, and promotes collaborative relationships. 

Social media at workplace also encourages casual conversations among employees and creates a healthy workplace environment. It is the simplest and most appropriate way to communicate with employees even beyond the workspace. Being a very common and unsophisticated way of building communication, it can help improve team collaboration and organizational bonding. 

Communication through social media also helps deliver solutions, issues, and insights with greater efficiency, helping to clear conflicts beforehand. Hence, this takes us to our next benefit: empowering employees to come up with new ideas.

Empowers employees to foster innovation and entrepreneurship 

Social media communication not only helps in improving engagement but also helps in encouraging innovative ideas and entrepreneurial passion in the employees. This can promote clear-headed diversity in the workplace environment and ultimately help in originating a competitive edge.  

According to a report by Mckenzie & Co., companies that support diversity are 35% more likely to surpass the ones that stay under the established protocols and domains. Providing the employees with the time to coagulate their thoughts on social media about their personal passion or goals can also spark innovation. 

As Dr. Peter Drucker said, “To improve communications, work not on the utter, but the recipient.” With that said, personal interests are the most meaningful way to lead the endeavor.  More than 82% of the companies have started using social media as the central theme of their innovation process, matching their company ideas with the external demand, bringing customer-stakeholder-suppliers closer to their design process.

Research by ScienceDirect showed that companies like Starbucks and Threadless have greatly benefitted by bringing up the use of social media and user-generated content as a medium for service and product innovation. Well, these were just a few examples out of thousands of successful stories of how social media has boosted innovation, and embracing it for the purpose of ideation is the best way to begin. 

Helps the employees to take a break from work

There are several benefits of permitting social media at workplace but the most important of all is it allows the employees to take the much-required mental break from the work. According to a survey, the majority of the employees use social media at workplace to take a “mental break” from the work stress and get freshen up. 

Social media helps in uplifting the mood of the employees by providing them with an entrance to the digital world. It not only allows them to escape the confinement of the office work and virtually visit and view whatever they want without actually leaving their desk or going to the break room. 

Cons Of Social Media At Workplace 

Decrement in employee productivity

Anything in excess is not good for you, this same applies to social media at workplace as well. According to statistics, on average people spend around 2 hours 23 minutes every day on social media. Even if your employees spend just half of this time scrolling through their social media, it can cause a significant impact on their daily work.  

Just using social media after every 5-10 minutes is not to be appreciated. This can immensely affect the productivity levels of the employees. The content available on social media is never-ending. There is always new content being uploaded every second. Therefore, this makes it very easy to get addicted to social media.  

Social media going wrong

Just how easy it seems to earn a reputation from social media, it can break your reputation the same way. Anything can be made viral across the globe in just a few seconds. Foolish or offensive comments or posts made purposely or by mistake can completely destroy your reputation just in a matter of time. 

There have been many instances in the past where employees were fired from their jobs for being disrespectful, rude, vulgar, or insulting content on social media. This not only causes problems to the employees but also brings a lot of difficulties for the company itself. 

Resulting in jealousy among employees 

We all know how people post about their lifestyles on social media, out of which most are fake. People posting/boasting about a brand new car, expensive outfits, new house, good food or fancy vacations are very common. 

When employees see their colleagues posting such elegant lifestyle pictures, it can raise jealousy.  This can, in turn, result in a lowering of employee morale, disputes among team members, rivalry in the office, and affecting the workplace environment. 

How Does Social Media Affect The Behaviorism Of The Employees? 

Social media has tremendously changed our lifestyles as we all spend an uneven amount of time just scrolling down our devices. The actual reason behind the making of social media was to connect people from anywhere and allow them to express their views, but now it has been evolved into a digital content consumer market with more and more content getting created and consumed at a very high rate. There is always a new trend, hashtag and debate waiting for you every time you open social media. 

A report by taylorandfrancisonline showed that employees that use social media at workplace in order to interact and connect with their colleagues and coworkers, often tend to be more focused, motivated, and come up with more innovative ideas at work. On the contrary, employees who use social media at the workplace to connect to people outside their company tend to become less productive and disengaged. 

The study clearly indicates that the outcome of using social media at workplace is majorly dependent on the person the employee interacts with. Employees who interact with their colleagues and co-workers are provided with the opportunity to share their thoughts and meaningful work experiences but the employees that make connections and interact with outsiders are disinterested and very distracted from their work. Therefore, this clearly states that social media is not the concern; instead, it concerns the employee and with whom they interact the most. 

The Correct Way To Make The Best Use Of Social Media At Workplace

As we know that social media is already present at the workplace, and employees are using it daily, to make the best use of social media at the workplace. 

STEP 1: Use Marketing Strategies To Fortify Employees’ Support

Marketing strategies like internal marketing is an ideal strategy to convince your employees about your product or services. Internal marketing is a strategy to promote your company’s missions, visions, and culture to your employees to attain their support in return. 

Some of the best ideas for internal marketing are: 

  • Conveying the company’s mission, goals, & culture regularly.
  • Creating a reliable, clear company strategy in the workplace.
  • Asking and working on the employees’ feedback.
  • Appreciate brainstorming new ideas and implementing them.

STEP 2: Making The Right Social Media Policy For The Company

Forming a department including supportive employees can help in drafting the right social media policies for your company. Given below are some examples of what points your policy can include:

  • Appointment of representatives who can officially speak for the company and who can not.
  • Drafting what acceptable content and conduct are.
  • Proper rules and regulations for handling sensitive data of the company.
  • Procedures for handling disputes in the company regarding social media.
  • How can your employees help socialize about your company’s benefits and why they choose your company over the others. 

STEP 3: Embrace Employee Advocacy 

With employee advocacy, your employees serve as your ambassador on their social media accounts. Working as your social media ambassador, your employees will help your company recruit top talent, build their brand, and upscale its marketing and sales strategy. 

Some of the things that employees share with employee advocacy are as follows: 

  • Are they enjoying working with you?
  • Their latest interaction they had with a customer and how did your product/service help them.
  • How is their relationship with their managers?
  • The latest headlines about the employee stories and news.
  • Your company’s specialties set you apart from the others and things that the company needs to focus on. 

With a proper employee advocacy program, you invariably take the help from your employees by providing them pre-advocacy content in one place. Later, they can share this content on their personal social media accounts.

Final Thoughts On The Use Of Social Media At Workplace

There is absolutely no question that technology has helped improve the workplace from research to productivity to record-keeping to what not. Here, the main question is not about should employees use social media in the workplace. Because everyone knows they are, and there is nothing wrong with that. Your aim should always be to leverage that activity for the benefit of your company and your employees. 

Rather than criticizing your employees’ use of social media, encourage your employees to use it effectively. You can run organizational campaigns to educate your employees about the best use of social media. The more aware your employees become, the more sensibly they will use social media. Finding the correct balance is the ultimate key to use social media in the workplace. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of social media in the workplace?

It helps the employees to take the much-needed break from work

There are several benefits of permitting social media at the workplace, but the most important is that it allows the employees to take the much-required mental break from work. According to a survey, the majority of the employees use social media at workplace to take a “mental break” from the work stress and get freshen up.

Should you allow social media in the workplace?

The main question is not about should employees use social media at workplace. Because everyone knows, they are and there is nothing wrong with that. Your aim should always be to leverage that activity for the benefit of your company and your employees. Rather than criticizing your employees’ use of social media, encourage your employees to use it effectively.

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