Social media and the workplace is a topic of contention for employees and employers alike. Recent statistics confirm the prevalence and increased use of social media. According to social media news online, in Australia alone there are almost 14 million Facebook users, more than 3 million LinkedIn users and just fewer than 3 million Twitter users in Australia. A recent report by Sensis has revealed that 21% of employees use social media during their working day and 58% use it immediately after work. These statistics highlight the value and risks social media presents to employers.
One of the common issues that employers experience in relation to social media is that employees may see the workplace as an extension of their lives and comment on it as they see fit. There may be a blurring of lines between professionalism, colleague versus friendships and relationships. One of the challenges faced by employers is utilising the upsides of social media, including brand messaging and recruitment, but preventing employees from damaging the company’s reputation on social media.
Ultimately the employer’s best form of protection is to educate their employees in relation to their internal policies on social media and to implement such policies.
Tips for protecting the brand
- Employers need to be very clear at a high level position on what their views are on social media. They need to decide whether social media is a platform that is very critical to their business needs. There needs to be an alignment of where they go with social media and what this translates into for employee usage.
- If employees are going to be encouraged to use social media then it is highly imperative to ensure there is education and guidance round it.
- Training and guidance on workplace behaviour and working relationships are vital for an organisation regardless of whether or not they allow social media usage.