Social Media in the workplace – has business evolved enough?

This year saw the twenty-sixth anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web. The internet has transformed many aspects of our lives and, over the last decade, social networking sites have been at the heart of this. Why do we use Social Media in business? Social media connects millions of people across the world every day.

Businesses have recognised that the positive use of social media can be an effective tool for marketing and brand awareness. Social media is a more engaging platform than more traditional communications tools such as static intranets. Enterprise social networks also help organisations deliver better services over the longer term, being valuable tools for drawing on employee insight and experience to make improvements. As well as enabling ideas to be fed ‘upwards’, they provide forums for ideas.

If you don’t use Social Media to support your recruitment campaign, then you are missing out on a huge candidate pool. I have reduced recruitment fees for some businesses by 80% through the effective usage of Social Media. It costs nothing to tweet and even though there are costs associated to Linkedin, for some roles it has proven to be extremely successful.

‘Efficient’ and ‘Cost- effective’ – two of my favourite words.

Learning and development is also an area that I have observed with excitement. While there will always be a place for face-to-face learning interventions, social media can transform many aspects of learning and development, being used to curate knowledge, locate experts and facilitate peer-to-peer support.

The benefits of social media are undeniable, however it also presents employers with some new problems. Employee use of social media, inside and outside of the workplace can expose employers to some serious risk. It has been reported that the misuse of the internet and social media by employees costs the UK economy billions of pounds every year. Also, add to that mix that many employers are already grappling with issues like time theft, defamation, cyber bullying, freedom of speech and the invasion of privacy.

Despite all of this, I still strongly believe that all businesses should embrace social media within the workplace. You just need to be smart about it and get your ducks in a row.

Here are a few tips to enable you to utilise Social media within the workplace without having to fall foul of the law;

Developing a Policy
Employers need to decide what the boundaries within their workplace are. The policy needs to include what is and what is not acceptable for general behaviour in the use at work of the internet, emails, phones and social media; such as networking websites, blogs and tweets. Don’t forget to update other policies that relate to this also. For example, an organisation’s policy on bullying should include references to ‘cyber bullying’.

Rules for Recruitment
It is advisable for an employer to provide guidance to managers and some rules to follow when using social media to recruit. In particular when recruiting, employers should be careful if assessing applicants by looking at their social networking pages – this can be discriminatory and unfair.

Social Media Training
I am often surprised by the lack of awareness employees have of their own usage of social media. I always advise my clients to include social media within the induction process.  Just by explaining to employees how to check their privacy settings on their social networking pages, can prevent so many problems.  I have been involved in so many disciplinary hearings with employees that freely make disparaging comments about their place of work or boast about pulling a ‘sickie’. Self-awareness when using social media platforms is vital to all – would you place an advert in the local paper stating that you hate your boss? No, so why do so many do it on facebook?

Talk to Your Staff
Talk to your staff: Employers should inform and consult with their employees if planning to monitor social media activity affecting the workplace.

Do you need help with your social media policy?

If you need any help in developing a social media policy then please contact the HPC team on 0844 8005932 or email

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