According to a 2016 study 77% of employees in the US use social media while they are at work. Nearly half of them said that they used social media to connect with friends and family, view photos and videos and even to search for a new job.
Social media is so ingrained into our lifestyle that it is near impossible to stop employees using it at work. While a lot of people think that employees’ use of social media at work is a bad thing, there are positives that can be gained. These include:
Show your employees you trust them
When you implement rules and regulations on employees, before letting them show you how they want to work, you are suggesting to staff that you don't trust them to do the work you hired them to do. If you let employees manage their own time, you are showing them that you have faith in their ability to not only do the work, but to be respectful of the company and people they work with and for. This is a two-way street as if you trust and respect your employees, they will feel the same way towards you.
Of course, if this freedom doesn't work for you or your employees, you can always revisit this policy or provide more guidelines on social media usage at work when the time requires it.
Improve employee productivity
The aforementioned survey showed that the majority of people who use social media at work, do it to take a break from what they are working on. Research has shown that taking regular breaks throughout the working day makes employees happier, more focused and more productive. There are many ways to take productive breaks at work, but if this is the way your employees want to relax during their break-time, then you should encourage it.
Help employees make professional connections
Traditional networking takes time and means that staff members have to be out of the office to do it. Online networking is easier, quicker and employees can do it from their desks in between other tasks. Give your employees the freedom to build professional relationships that they will find easier to nurture on their preferred social network.
Allow employees to connect with colleagues
Businesses no longer have to be run from one geographical location so if you have employees who are based in different regions or countries, communicating via social media is extremely cost effective. It’s also nice for colleagues who only rarely work together – e.g. weekend employees and full-time employees – to be connected on social networks and if they want to share work-related information this way, then let them. You may even want to consider setting up a Facebook group for all of your staff - and you! - to keep in touch.
Boost your company’s reputation and image
Most businesses have some sort of social media profile, be it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and there are many benefits to having an active online presence which people can connect to, like and share from. One of the best ways to increase your reach and engagement on social media is getting your employees involved and actually encouraging them to share and like the content you publish. It can make a big difference. For example, if your company LinkedIn page has 300 followers and you employ 10 staff, and each staff member is connected to 1000 people on LinkedIn, if each member of staff likes a company update, it has the potential to be seen by 10,000 people. Of course, that number is often not attainable but it does highlight how social networking at work doesn’t have to be a bad thing if your employees are also sharing good things about your company.