You know how social media’s supposed to be giving you the right to freely express yourself on the web? Well, sometimes that can backfire on you as well. Fairly recently, one guy lost his job for some demeaning and somewhat threatening stuff he posted on his blog.
The blog entry was about the company’s policies on Internet usage and the manager that implemented the policies. Although some complaints were valid, the derogatory way he expressed his opinion about the person and the company was enough to irk up the manager.
Although he was an exceptionally good employee – gets to work on time, finishes tasks on time, doesn’t make much noise – he frequented various social bookmarking sites and has a nasty habit of mouthing off in the social web, which didn’t really do him any good.
His main point: Why ban all social media sites when it is something that helps keep employees decompress, even for a short while, from the pressures of the job? And does it pose a problem when it doesn’t affect an employee’s output?
From what I see, social media sites are like double-edged swords – they have the potential to be good or evil, depending on the wielder. Place it in the hand of someone who knows how to control its usage, and then you’re good. Grant access to someone who doesn’t understand the meaning of discipline, then the potential for abuse is high.
Businesses tend to have 4 common views about allowing social media access in the workplace: One, they disallow it completely; two, they allow access, but only for corporate usage; three, they grant employees limited personal use of such sites; and four, they allow open access to the social web.
It wasn’t long ago that company phone usage and email access were subject to the same scrutiny. Do we allow employees to use it for personal purposes? Should we block out employee access to it entirely?
Like I said, it all depends on whether your employees are capable of self-control or not. You can’t deny the fact that it’s easy to lose track of time once you’ve had fun browsing social bookmarking sites or playing games. Thus increasing the company owner’s worries that allowing social media usage will only be bad for productivity.
The only problem I see here is that you won’t know whether your employees are responsible enough to handle social media access or not unless you try.
My take on this: give them a test period. Leave social media access for some time to gauge whether they’ll abuse that freedom or not. From there, you can decide whether or not to block social media sites, limit it to business use, allow limited personal use, or allow it altogether.
How about you, though, if it was your business? Would you allow full social media access for employees or not?
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