Even if they try, IT departments won’t put an end to employees’ use of social media at work. But there are some steps companies should take to minimize the risks.
One challenge with controlling employees’ use of social networking sites: Many are now bringing personal smartphones, tablets and other devices to work, giving them access to the Internet in ways completely outside of IT’s control.
Three-quarters of employees use personal devices to access social media at work, with 60% saying they check Facebook, Twitter and other sites multiple times per day, according to the new Social Media and Workplace 2012 Report, courtesy of SilkRoad.
That’s despite the fact that only 43% of the 1,105 people surveyed said their employer allows access to social media at work.
In other words, blocking access to social networking sites won’t do much to actually keep employees from using them.
And many experts say blocking access isn’t the best approach, anyway. Allowing short breaks can help employees boost their productivity, and many of them are using social media for productive purposes, too.
For example, 49% of the employees surveyed by SilkRoad use social media at work to connect with co-workers, and 44% use it to connect with customers.
But despite the benefits, social media use should be regulated in order to avoid risks, such as:
- IT security issues, including malware that spreads on social networks or the accidental posting of sensitive information
- Legal concerns, such as harassment or discrimination taking place online, and
- Damage to the company’s reputation based on things employees post.
Firms lack policies on social media at work
Unfortunately, 24% of survey respondents said their employer has no social networking policy at all. And even worse, only 23% said the company has a specific, published policy regarding social media at work, and just 7% received social media training.
The rest of respondents said the company offers general guidelines (31%), holds employees to informal expectations (17%), or monitors use without a written policy (9%). Another 8% don’t know if their employer has a social networking policy.
However, having a well thought-out social media policy can help companies reap the benefits of social media while minimizing the risks. Here’s a social networking policy template organizations can use to get started.
And here are the full results of SilkRoad’s study, in infographic form: