Should You Let Employees Use Social Media During Business Hours?

Social media is nearly inescapable. Along with the big players such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, niche social media sits such as Instagram and Snapchat are making inroads.  In many cases, workers access social media on the job.Should You Let Employees Use Social Media During Business Hours?

As late as 2009, more than half of the companies in the United States banned their employees from using Facebook and Twitter at work. In reality, such bans are not really effective, because employees can always access banned sites on their cell phones. Instead, companies should recognize that social media holds both advantages and disadvantages and devise proactive social media policies for their workers.

Employees Can Stay On Top of Industry Events

By judiciously using social media during working hours, your employees can stay on top of industry events. Many companies post updates through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media outlets throughout the day. By checking in on industry-related posts, employees can draw insight and guidance about trending topics that they can apply to their own work. For instance, marketing employees can apply trending topics to their advertising and direct messaging efforts.

Liberal Social Media Policies Attract More Job Seekers

Younger workers grew up with the Internet and social media, and consider social media to be an essential aspect of their lives. As a result, companies that indicate that they hold progressive social media policies in their job finder ads are more likely to attract younger workers and tech-savvy workers of all ages. By contrast, companies that attempt to ban social media will likely find it increasingly difficult to attract high quality workers as workers who are not tech savvy age out of the workforce.

Workers Get Needed Mental Breaks

Concentrating on one task for long periods of time is mentally tiring. Allowing workers to take short breaks to catch up with their Facebook friends or check in with their favorite Pinterest boards gives them much-needed mental breaks. After a few moments of surfing the web or chatting online, many employees feel recharged and ready to return to the task at hand with a new reserve of creativity.

Social Media Is a Major Distraction

According to the results of a 2012 survey described in an article by Forbes, 64 percent of all employees visited non-work-related websites every day on the job. Of that group, 39 percent claimed that they spent one hour or less each week on non-work websites; 29 percent stated that they spent two hours each week on non-work websites. A surprisingly large 21 percent admitted to wasting five hours or more per week surfing websites that were not related to wok, while 3 percent claimed to spend 10 or more of their working hours each week surfing non work-related sites.

Company Systems Are More Vulnerable to Viruses and Trojans

Social gaming is one of the most popular social media activities. However, engaging in social gaming exposes company networks to potential viruses and Trojans. The risk is especially great if your company has a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy,

Increased Potential for Derogatory Posts During Working Hours

Allowing your employees to use social media during working hours increases the risk of a social media disaster occurring during the heart of the business day. However, such a situation actually presents a mixed blessing. If a social media gaffe is discovered while staff are on hand, your company can begin to assess and repair the damage right away, rather than discovering the problem after several hours or even overnight.

About Simon Morray

Simon Morray researches workplace dynamics. He writes about the employee psychology as affected by coworkers, work hours, and freedom while on the clock. For more employee policies and ideas, visit the website.