In September, Facebook reported that it’s user population had reached an astounding 300 million worldwide. But employers are withstanding peer pressure, apparently. A new survey by Robert Half Technology found that 54 percent of employers polled reported that they “do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while at work.”
An additional 19 percent said that their organization allows the use of social networking sites for business purposes only, while some 26 percent said their workers could use such sites for personal use while on the job.
“Using social networking sites may divert employees’ attention away from more pressing priorities, so it’s understandable that some companies limit access,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a press release about the study. “For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes.”
So how do these numbers figure into the reality that many companies are learning that social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and wikis also can be used to engage employees in discussions, foster conversations between teams, and share knowledge that previously was accessible only to a limited number of users. And don’t forget the potential sales implications of social media. Dell Inc. recently reported revenues of $1 million from its Twitter accounts.
While there can be great benefits to using social media in the workplace, there are also substantial risks if you don’t have a clear policy in place. When you sit down to begin drafting your social media policy, you should consider whether you will permit employees to access sites like Facebook and Twitter during working hours. Consider the issue honestly, considering the many advantages that many of these sites can give your organization while still maintaining a realistic perspective about the time-wasting that inevitably occurs when employees are tweeting and posting at work.