Hey, Brother, You're Big | HR Fishbowl | HR Fishbowl

george-orwell-8415471It seems like a lot of organizations are looking to HR to solve this ever so scary issue of social media in the workplace: what if our employees are saying naughty things…what if they’re gossiping…what if they are bad mouthing the company…and what if, my ohh my, they are doing it all on company time?  Who the flip cares?  At the end of the day, how is an employee’s use of social media any different than what people do over lunch or while on a smoke break or after a Manhattan and five beers at a happy hour?  Sure the audience is bigger, but I’m not sure that necessarily means the risk is bigger.  Besides, how do we even know whether all that time spent on the networking sites is counter-productive anyway?  Steve Boese – and he seems like a pretty smart guy – points to an IBM study  that would suggest employees are actually well intentioned in their use of these tools and that some organizational benefit might really come from the interaction…(gasp) say it isn’t so.  Mark Bennett with TalentedApps had a great post about this yesterday.  On the other hand, RobertHalf tells us that based on a recent survey of CIO’s the majority of companies are blocking access to these sites entirely.  Why does this seem so bassackwards to me?  I feel like calling the ACLU. 

When it’s all said and done, our people are going to find a way to express their views – good or bad.  And they will always use business hours to some extent to do that.  Why are we so worried about that?  They still have to get their jobs done and if you’re worried about letting social media get in the way of their productivity, you got other issues, sister.  Let ‘em talk, let ‘em gossip, let them stir the pot if they want to…and let them do it on company time.  I say stop trying to over-engineer this thing: give them unrestricted access and let this powerful medium evolve.  To me, the benefit far outweighs the cost – and if it doesn’t yet, it will.

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