Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Facebook etc. should NOT be blocked at work

Some corporations are convinced that allowing employees to get on Facebook etc. would affect their bottom line. They block chat, tweets, and all other social networking to make sure workers are doing only what they're paid to do. There can be a backlash from that.

Morale - People want to work for companies that are cool. When employees actually enjoy working for a company, they do their best work. Morale is a huge aspect of the business world, but few owners and managers seem to get it. Low morale among the workers leads to contempt, contempt leads to disloyalty. Disloyalty leads to attrition.

Reputation - Reputation is everything in business. And in this day of instant gratification and notification, finding yourself with a falling reputation is little more than a disgruntled employee away. Giving them tiny crumbs (like social media access) will help.

Communication - Whether it’s internal or external, is key to business success. One of the fastest and most used means of communication today is social networking. It’s just about the most immediate form of communication there is. Your employees may be communicating with the outside world, but many of those people are consumers and possible clients.

Free advertising - Social networking brings free advertising. Hop onto this bandwagon. Getting on board early shows the public that you are an agile, aware company. Allowing your employees to take advantage of social networking also shows you care about them.

Collaboration - Social networking facilitates collaboration internally, but it also lets users collaborate with the entire world. When workers are stuck on an idea, they call out to their network to get answers, just like they did in school. It’s free and it’s fast.

Social research - You need your finger on the pulse of society. You can get this with your employees on social networking sites. In fact, you’ll have instant access to the court of public opinion even as it evolves in front of you. This is another (free) way to expand your company’s reach.

Skill building - Your company and its employees need to know how to use social networking effectively. Why? Because our society is on a collision course with an even further embedding of social media into our lives. You want your company and your employees at the forefront of that trend. At some point, your employees may have to use social networking to market and sell your product. Allowing them to use it on a daily basis now will ensure that they’re social media savvy, without the need for training.

Transparency - The world wants transparency. Allowing your employees to participate in social networking illustrates to your employees’ social circle that you mean business when it comes to employee retention and happiness. If they see a company deliberately squelching the employee voice and hiding behind the walls of security and information blocking, there can be a backlash. Transparency can go a long way toward boosting customer loyalty as well as your customers’ faith in you as a business within the community.

PR - Blocking social media may unleash PR problems. The effects of blocking social media will trickle down to the public — quickly. And although you might not think so, this can quickly snowball into a PR nightmare, especially as more and more young employees — who depend upon social networking — join the workforce.

Networking - You want your company to network. You want your employees to network. You want your employees to know what other companies are doing and to be in touch with the heartbeat of your market. What better way to accomplish this than with social networking? Yes, they can network with email, but not on as grand a scale.

For most managers and executives, the bottom line will yank the rug out from under these reasons. But times are changing and it’s certainly best to keep up rather than scramble to bridge gaps and fill holes. Try allowing social networking in your company — even if only experimentally. See how it affects performance and morale and then decide whether it’s a perk worth keeping.


Retro Blog said...

ahem, we just had most of the internet access blocked a few weeks ago. We had an employee who came in late, worked 1hour, networked most of the rest of the time and was consumed with it.

Also most of the social networking takes place on cell phones,texting etc. We have not noticed much impact other than clumps of people texting.

Karl Plesz said...

There are places where the people are not going to use social networking for anything productive. Then there are places where the people are going to use it partially for pure social purposes and partly for professional networking and idea sharing. I've worked in both environments.