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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The right and the wrong way to approach employees’ use of social media

5:45:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg 1 comment
Are there a right and a wrong way to look at how employees use social media? I am inclined to say there are.

Below is how Swedbank, a leading Nordic-Baltic banking group, reasons according to an article in Computer Sweden (translated from Swedish with Google Translate + some grammar fixing):
We see no reason to stop the use of social media at our workplace. Just as when an employee is talking to a lot of private phone, or come late for work, it is a management issue when someone spends too much time on the internet during working hours. There is nothing new.
- We do not measure what employees are talking on the phone and we don't check what they do online. It is equally okay to surf for a while online to go out and smoke or have a cup of coffee. We don't encourage staff to be out on the Web, but we don't stop them. We are positive and assume that they will use their common sense.
The main advantage of transparency is that employees can easily work and communicate with customers.
- With good communication, we build trust. We are where the customers are and see what they are saying and thinking. This is a huge advantage.
The message couldn't be much clearer; if you trust your employees with phones, why not trust them with social media? If employees overuse social media or use it for the wrong reasons, it is up to management to deal with the situation.

There are basically two approaches to approach employees' use of social media at work. But I won't say which one is the right one and which is the wrong one - I leave it to the common sense of management to choose which one is the right one:

  • The No Trust At All Approach: Eliminate the risk of employees overusing or misusing social media by eliminating all use of social media (thereby also eliminating all potential value that might come from using social media)
  • The Trust By Default Approach: Give employees the freedom with responsibility to choose for themselves and deal with any situations (exceptions) when their common sense fails (thereby also allowing all potential value that might come from social media to be created).


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