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Danny Boyle highlighted to us in his recent Olympic Opening Ceremony; the ‘digital age’ is upon us. During the ceremony Boyle impressed upon the public the importance of 21st century technology. Gone are the days of letters and personal telephone calls; instead text, email and social networking sites are used in order to make contact. The popularity of social media sites is overwhelming, claims go as far to say that if Facebook was a country it would be the 3rd most populated in the world. Facebook is the most visited website globally, with around 800 million active users. Of these 800 million users, many admit to using the website for more than 30 minutes per day (16%) and some admit to using the website in excess of one hour per day (6%) including during working hours. As most are aware; all social media sites can cause problems for businesses:
- Loss of productivity/ misuse of time
- Reputational harm
- Damage to client/ customer/ supplier relationships
- Discrimination/ harassment/ cyber-bullying
- Derogatory and defamatory comments made online
- Such statistics may worry a business owner, however fear not; there is a solution to the problem!
Make clear the ground rules of the business with regards to social media usage in and out of working hours.
Explain how employees should behave online but also state what they should refrain from doing when using social media websites.
Make clear the possible consequences of any online misconduct, including disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Ensure employers are fully aware of social media policies in place.
To put your mind at ease it may be helpful to create your own social media policy. The policy need not be standalone; rules on social media could form part of your general email and internet policy. Small businesses may find the inclusion of such a policy unnecessary; of course including such a policy is dependent on both the nature of the business and the personnel. However many organisations, whatever their size, are dependent on the use of IT and employees are likely to use social media in their own time. Not only will such a policy protect a business from misuse of its IT systems but also demonstrate efforts you have made to prevent problems occurring via social media. Without such a policy employers may find it hard to act upon any social media related misconduct.
Of course social media is not all bad! Modern technology within the workplace can help a business to operate smoothly and efficiently. Social media is a wonderful tool for promoting and raising the profile of a business. If the issue of social media is handled in the correct way, a business should encounter no social media related problems.