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Social Media at Work: Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 21 October.

Truth: Social media at work is an integral part of many of your employees’ days.

According to a Pew research report, employees are using social media at work for a wide variety of reasons, both professional and non-job related — a combined 61 percent said they use social media to “take a mental break from their job” or “connect with friends and family while at work,” while a combined 44 percent said they use it to “make or support professional connections” or “get information that helps them solve problems at work.”

And all those numbers might be blown away if and when the new Workplace by Facebook takes off.

Savvy companies know that allowing social media at work is a smart way to engage and attract employees, and part of the “work-life” blend that all age groups, but especially millennials, crave.

But when is it too much? How can employers allow the benefits of social media in the workplace while still maintaining some control?

Benefits of Social Media at Work Outweigh the Risks

“Employee morale may suffer if the workplace is seen as being too restrictive [on social media use]. A ban, especially if accompanied by the blocking of social media sites, tells employees that you do not trust them to monitor their own time and productivity. Disallowing social media at work can take away important opportunities for employees to promote the organization and network in ways that can help the company. Social media also acts as a way for the employee to grow their network and stay connected in the industry — which could help the organization.” —Read more at HR Daily Advisor.

Employees’ Posts Paint Your Company in a Positive Light

“Employee social advocacy programs, which encourage staff to share updates about the business on their own social media accounts, have grown by 191% since 2013 and are due to take off in the year ahead. When done right, the payoff can be impressive; companies not only expand their social media reach dramatically, they also get measurably better results. Content shared by employees, by one recent measure, gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.” —Read more at Fast Company.

Finding the Balance Between Productive Use and ‘Time Theft’

“‘When evaluating social media usage at work, the financial impact is astonishing,’ says Tisha Danehl, vice president at Ajilon. ‘Social media is here to stay and mobile platforms are only getting smarter, so employers must establish clear policies in order to keep employees productive and engaged at the office.’ Danehl’s comments certainly represents the traditional philosophy on workplace management, in which employers impose strict rules on supposed ‘time theft.’ However, many companies, particularly in the tech economy, have eschewed such restrictions out of the belief that allowing employees the discretion to take breaks from work will make them happier and more productive.” —Read more at

Crafting a Common Sense Social Media Policy

“‘You will want to cover two main areas in your policy: how employees are using their own social media accounts and how your company is using social media). There are countless topics you could include in a social media policy, so it’s key that you build a guide based on your top priorities. Additionally, you need to recognize that this will be a live document and will never be 100 percent complete. With new social media platforms and features being introduced regularly, a small business’ social media policy will need to adapt to these changes.” —Read more at Hootsuite.

One of the Key Aspects of a Social Media Policy: Who Can Share What

“[M]ake sure your employees know who can share content on behalf of the company. Also address legal and regulatory procedure. When should your social media team consult the legal department? When should they run something by HR?” —Read more at Execupay.

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