Compiled by NINA TI
Just as office supplies and work phones can be abused, so can social media. Does ‘restricting access’ to social apps, video streaming, gaming and stock trading sites help an employee focus at work?
In our HR Talk Q&A, we gather a number of human resources experts to answer questions from readers.
Here, you can get the right advice from professionals who are actively involved in human capital development, and who understand your grouses about dealing with the competitive forces in employment today.
Senior VP group human resources, Taylor’s Education Group
What she says:
While some employers believe that blocking social media access in the office will improve productivity, such a measure is difficult to accomplish in our connected world.
When employees are not engaged, they fall victim to the endless distractions at work. Long before the introduction of online social media, disengaged employees were chit-chatting around the office, socialising on the phone or finding other personal things to attend to instead of working.
If they are blocked from sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, employees who are determined to go online can still use data plans on their personal mobile devices to socialise on the Internet.
If implemented poorly, the policy of blocking social media sites at the workplace can increase staff dissatisfaction and reduce productivity.
Employees may feel aggrieved towards their company for not trusting nor empowering them and, instead, controlling their personal space.
Some companies use sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to engage with their customers and to build their corporate and employer brand.
When employees tweet or communicate on Facebook about the positive aspects of their work experience, they become good brand ambassadors for the company, which will benefit the employer.
That said, to have no governance at all on social media usage at the workplace will tempt Internet-addicted employees to abuse their rights.
To weed out the small percentage of problematic cases, a policy with guidelines on personal Internet usage during working hours can be established.
Some companies use tools to monitor Internet activity levels. This is a viable option for employers who do not wish to totally block access to social media sites during work hours.
Rather than blocking Internet sites to try to improve productivity, employers can focus on enhancing employee engagement and retention instead.
Drivers to keep employees engaged at work include having a shared purpose, promoting core values that steer company culture, providing clear direction and goals, measuring outcomes objectively and creating an enjoyable working environment.
Surveys have shown that there is a positive correlation between highly-engaged employees and high-performing companies.
Aresandiran J. Naidu
President, Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management
What he says:
Social media is the way forward for everyone today. But it has received unfavourable attention at the workplace by some employers, who do not realise that social media incurs a negligible cost.
In the new world, technology and communications are important buzzwords. Higher usage will undoubtedly result in higher productivity and efficiency.
But like everthing else, there is a need for discipline to ensure that usage and application of social media at the workplace is regulated properly and not abused.
There must be rules and guidance for the usage and application of social media. Unfortunately, organisations that are set in the traditional patterns apply decision-making in a hierachical manner. This is an old school way of doing things which prevents new thinking or innovations to be made openly and hence nobody takes responsibility for new approaches, such as introducing and integrating social media into work.
So the easy approach is to follow the crowd, and discourage the introduction of social apps.
However, in certain workplaces, employers have encouraged the use of such apps with guidelines and rules. These employers have seen the benefits that social media can provide, such as improved communication and organisational effectiveness.
Whether you welcome or discourage such apps, it all depends on the attitude of leaders in the organisation. A conservative leader will always see the negative side and discourage the usage of apps.
They fail to realise that technology through “social media” comes with no cost, and there are gains to be obtained for organisations that are quick to adopt and harness new products on the Internet.
Survey has shown, Malaysians, are savvy when it comes to social media application. It has become part of their lives, mainly through the educational environment.
If employers block access to such apps at the workplace, there may be poor engagement and sharing/growing between employees.
Talents may not be attracted to work with such organisations. Therefore, employers must welcome changes and adopt social media at workplace wholeheartedly.
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First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 6 June 2015
Nina Ti is part of the team that manages social media and distribution of digital content for Leaderonomics. She writes on HR and management topics. All views and opinions expressed here are her own.