By Published On: February 24, 2011


Many employers have decided to ban the use of social media in the workplace. Their reasons for the bans vary from employer to employer, but there are several common – yet often unjustified – fears.

I’m not saying that you should open up the social media floodgates and let your employees have free reign over social media at work. I’m saying that, with the proper policies and training in place, you can use social media to improve your organization.

Looking for reasons why you SHOULDN’T ban social media in your workplace? Below are the top 10 reasons to not ban workplace use (in no particular order):

  1. The organization can’t add social media into the marketing mix if it bans its own employees – When it comes to social media, you have to walk the walk, and talk the talk. Some organizations feel that they can implement social media marketing tactics, while simultaneously disallowing its employees access to social media websites. It’s hypocritical and your customers won’t stand for hypocrisy.
  2. Employee’s social media use can be an asset – A social media-savvy workforce is a significant asset to most organizations. If you have employees that live and breathe social media in their personal lives, they can be well qualified to assist the organization with its social media efforts. Although, if you do allow employees to speak on the organization’s behalf via social media channels, it is very important that they’re extensively trained on social media best practices, your organization’s social media policy and your organization’s social media objectives.
  3. Unobtrusive breaks can increase overall productivity – By “unobtrusive” I don’t mean that employees should spend several hours per day on social media. Unobtrusive implies that an employee might take a couple of 5 minute breaks throughout the day to peruse their social graph’s updates. These short little “breaks from reality” have been shown to help reset the mind, which helps increase concentration and productivity.
  4. Build employee’s knowledge of social media – If you’d like to implement social media marketing into your organization’s marketing mix, what better way to train your new social media ambassadors (your employees) than through experience and trial-and-error?
  5. Social media builds morale – When employees have the freedom to take mental breaks at work, they’ll be happier. Happy employees make for happy workplaces. We’ve all gotten stressed out at work, but when we’re able to mentally escape for a few minutes, we’ll come back refreshed and less stressed. Who wants to work at a place where everybody’s cranky?
  6. Retain and attract top talent – By now we’ve all heard how fun it is to work at Google and Facebook. We know that those are great places to work because employees loudly praise these organizations’ positive work cultures. When you provide your employees with a workplace that encourages social media use, you’ll be more likely to keep your top performing employees, as well as attract additional top talent that want to be a part of your culture.
  7. Social media can solve problems – If your employees need an answer to a question, social media websites can help your employees access a larger database of question-answerers. Co-workers can provide answers too, but social media takes peer-to-peer collaboration to much higher level.
  8. Employees that are treated like children will act like children – In most cases, you should be able to trust that your employees know where to draw the line with social media use and to know that their work is their first priority. If your employees can’t handle the freedom and the responsibility afforded to them in a social media-friendly workplace, they may not be a good fit for your organization.
  9. Social networks can be used for professional networking – Allowing your employees to connect to other peers through social networks will allow them to be better at their jobs. If social media is banned at work, they’ll be more isolated and at risk of missing valuable peer-to-peer collaboration.
  10. No employees sneaking behind your back – If you ban social media at work, employees will always find ways to outsmart the ban. For instance, they may take extra bathroom breaks so that they can check social media on their mobile devices. When you have employees going behind your back to break the rules, your culture is going in the wrong direction.

Try it out. Trust your employees. Put the proper policies in place. Invest in social media training for your workforce. Make sure they know what’s appropriate and what’s not. Monitor for misuse and make necessary adjustments. When used in the workplace properly, social media is an asset to the entire organization, not a threat.

What are your experiences? Does your organization allow social media at work? Is it banned? Please share your experiences in the Comments.

[image credit: StartupMeme]

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
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