Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Social Networking Activity at Work Soars

Employees are more active on Facebook and spending more time browsing Twitter at the workplace, according to new research.  Employees were three times more active on Facebook at the office compared with activity during the same period in 2010, and they also browsed Twitter seven times more often. Does this mean employees are wasting more time and slacking? The report suggests the answer is “not necessarily.” A growing number of companies ask workers to use Facebook and Twitter to market products, monitor competitors, and communicate with customers. And they are encouraging this activity on work time. This is the main reason social media usage is exploding in the workplace, according to the study. 

All this social networking carries potential benefits and risks for organizations, and managing it probably isn’t as simple as banning it. Instead, organizations should develop and implement social media policies that are tailored to their particular business and workforce. It may be a good idea for the accounting clerk at a large box retailer to “tweet” positive things about her company while sitting in her cubicle, but is it a good idea for the person working the drive thru at a fast food restaurant to have a cell phone in hand while taking orders? There are other risks to employers who encourage social networking without good policies in place, including possible violations of labor law and “truth in advertising” rules and regulations. There is  no “one size fits all” approach to managing social networking in the workplace, and change happens fast in the technology driven world in which we live and work. Employers should take the time to carefully review and update policies on a regular basis, and make sure employees have access to and understand current policies and expectations within their organization.

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