Social Media in the Workplace

To Ban or Not to Ban? That is the Question.

Should job seekers today be posting their resumes on social media sites? Yes! Career professionals today agree that with careful account management and discretion about content, sites such as LinkedIn offer an extremely productive tool for professional networking. According to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder.com, 45 percent of employers questioned are using social networks to screen job candidates. So where is the debate?

The hot topic these days is the debate among business professionals about whether organizations should allow their employees to have access to social media during working hours. Skeptics argue that allowing employees to use social media would negatively affect the company’s productivity level by wasting time and money. They also have concerns about network security, inappropriate use and legal issues.

Let’s look at the issue from a different angle. What arguments are there in favor of a company allowing its employees to use social media at work?

First, the reality is that social media are here to stay. According to Ken Burbary, Vice President and Group Director at Digitas, there are 600+million users on Facebook in 2011. A study of more than 1,000 business professionals by People-OnTheGo found that two-thirds of top management and three-quarters of marketing and sales managers regularly check LinkedIn as a part of their business and networking.

Security company FaceTime Communications asked over 500 IT managers and employees about their internet and social media habits at work. The survey revealed that 79% of workers use Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube at work for business reasons. Of those reasons, 54% cited professional networking, 25% said they use these sites for research and 52% said for learning about their colleagues.

Social networking sites can keep businesses current on events, trends and opportunities in ways that traditional communication cannot. A related advantage is branding. The more a business networks within social media community sites, the more its brand is going to come to the attention of others. Social networking is a low cost way to advertise, promote and publicize products and services to a large number of visitors.

Furthermore, social media can solve problems quickly and efficiently because employees have a larger database of information. Social media take peer-to-peer collaboration to a much higher level. Finally when a business is able to stay abreast of current and future trends, it can attract social media-savvy employees and retain the top talent.

With all of these advantages, it doesn’t make sense to turn back the clock. But employers must acknowledge and address valid concerns about the possible negative impact of using social media at work. They can do this by setting appropriate policies, communicating them clearly to employees, and providing training in using social media sites responsibly and effectively.

If you have an opinion about the use of social media in the workplace, you are not alone. Thanks to social media tools, every web user now has a voice he or she can use to share, seek, recommend and complain. At the very least, businesses cannot ignore social media; at best, they will find ways to use this technology to their benefit.

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