A study recently claimed that every year in the United States approximately $650 billion is lost in productivity due to social media usage in the workplace. Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular social media sites and due to the loss in productivity approximately one-third of U.K. companies and 15 per cent of Canadian companies have started to block these sites (Palmer, 2011).
Generation Ys are becoming the largest and fastest growing segment within the workforce. Equipped with iPhones and Blackberries, Generation Ys run on technology, especially social media. Although social media can be seen as an important part of many people’s lives, actively participating in it while at work is not always acceptable.
According to a study provided by security solutions provider nCircle, four out of ten companies in the U.S. ban social media (Wee, 2010). However, some companies counteract this by creating an internal social media platform that allows employees to chat, post photos and engage with one another. A program called Yammer is a “software (that) provides Facebook- and Twitter-like capabilities adapted for workplace use, including employee profiles, activity streams, discussion forums, microblogging, wikis, idea generation software, joint document sharing and editing as well as tagging, rating and reviewing of content (Perez, 2012).” In 2011, $767.4 million was spent on enterprise social networking software, which was up 40 per cent from 2010 – this caught the attention of Microsoft Office who bought Yammer for $1.2 billion in 2012 (Perez, 2012).
Although Facebook and Twitter and interoffice programs like Yammer may seem to be relatively harmless there are also legal issues that come with social media use both internally and externally. For example, if an employee is using his or her Facebook or Twitter to write inappropriate comments or to post private company information this can be a major problem and could have detrimental effects on the company and the individual. This is why Communica has created a social media policy, which focuses on the business uses of social media as well as expectations of employees. Having a policy helps eliminate uncertainty and sets a standard that employees are held accountable to.
In the end the employer has to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons. However, if the organization decides to ban all social media in the workplace, the organization may miss out on some amazing opportunities. For example: market research, ability to observe competition, customer feedback, new hires, increased awareness of the company, company collaborations and many more.
Next time your company goes to hire a new student or Generation Y employee remember that some Generation Ys may value a company that knows and utilizes the benefits social media provide and may look elsewhere if their values don’t align.
And if engaging online and being a part of the biggest ongoing conversation in the world is important to you or your company then incorporating social media into the workplace is a vital component. Please feel free to add any comments, suggestions or opinions at the bottom; we would love to have your input.
– Keeley Travland, Communica
Attached are the following articles used for research: