Social media use should be embraced rather than feared according to experts… HR experts have warned business organisations to adopt a more open-minded attitude to the use of social media technologies instead of “killing the conversation” on social media by implementing restrictive workplace policies.
Gareth Jones of Brubaker HR said that social media was a potentially powerful business tool and that employers should be aware of the opportunities it could create rather than shut it down due to fears about potential abuse of it.
He also explained that it didn’t make sense for companies to provide a platform for their customers to collaborate, share information and build trust while at the same time deny their employees the opportunity to do similar internally. Jones warned that excessively draconian social media policies were not effective or necessary saying:
“Social media exposes cracks in your engagement levels, it doesn’t cause them. You no longer control access to technology or the content of conversation, so stop trying to.”
Al Shah, social media manager at pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, said his organisation actively encouraged the use of social media and had developed internal social media channels for their employees like blogging sites, community forums and profile builders. According to Shah the investment in social media increased productivity and morale and fostered a greater sense of community and co-operation within the workforce.
“Our approach to social media internally is that this is a concept, not a set of tools – it’s a way of working,” concluded Shah.
Lucy Turner, a freelance HR consultant, said that social media had become the standard method of communication for a whole new generation of technology users and it would be unwise to ignore it. “A zero tolerance approach could potentially alienate a whole generation of the workforce” she said but she also pointed to the need to police the use of social media in order to ensure insulting comments or virtual bullying were not a part of the discussion. Turner made it clear that the disciplinary measures that existed in the real world should also apply in the virtual world and that publicly viewable material could be used in evidence in misconduct cases. The message was to be open to the use of social media but also to be aware of using it responsibly – a robust yet fair-minded social media policy is recommended to achieve this.
A poll run on the People Management website discovered that 41% of the 940 people polled spent the majority of their time on social media attempting to improve communication and creativity while 24% said their main priority was finding new clients or talent. On the other hand 35% were most concerned with the misuse of social media and allocated a great deal of time managing the perceived dangers of using it.