Main image of article Are Social-Media Policies Defunct?
Should companies attempt to restrict their employees’ comments and activity on social media? Or should they give up the policy crusade and learn to embrace social media, as one HR professional recently recommended? After all, employers had similar concerns about the Internet just a few years ago and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to author and enforce a social-media policy since the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that certain employee comments about work conditions, benefits, and other conditions of employment amount to protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Where does your organization fall on the social-media spectrum? Time for you to weigh in. First, consider that organizations are increasingly using social media to reach external audiences, with most jumping on the bandwagon over the last two years. Marketing departments are most likely to use social media at 67 percent; HR comes in second at 44 percent, while 38 percent of public-relations groups use social media to reach customers, potential customers, and employees, according to a survey from SHRM. But while companies are finding that social media is an effective way to get their message out, 43 percent block employee access to social media on company-owned computers and handheld devices and 31 percent track employee usage of social-media platforms. It seems somewhat disingenuous that companies are using social media to improve productivity and boost the bottom line in some departments while denying other employees the same opportunity. And according to a recent survey by Cisco, 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of young employees said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choice, social-media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. Are employers fighting a losing battle? Should they spend less time and money on policies and learn to embrace social media?