A new survey of 2,500 British employers has revealed the impact the social media channels have made on businesses in the UK, although possibly not in the productive way you might think.
The research, conducted by PR firm Lewis Communications and IT firm HCL Technologies discovered that almost half of all British employers have banned Twitter and Facebook from the workplace, which perhaps suggests a continuing naivety of the benefits of social media for all businesses, and also raises questions about employee rights.
The study showed that 48 per cent of the UK companies polled have stopped employees sending tweets and status updates in the past 12 months, with 45 per cent of those surveyed doing so because they feared their business reputation was at stake.
HCL Technologies’ chief executive Vineet Nayar said: “It is quite remarkable that in this day and age, many employers are still putting their employees’ interests as a low priority by not allowing them to use sites like Facebook. Banning them outright will impact employees’ approach to work in a negative way, having a detrimental effect on the business as a whole.
“It’s clear there is still a trust issue between employers and employees. I believe employers need to empower their staff by embracing the use of social networking to demonstrate trust and recognition.”
Of course, blocking users from accessing Twitter or Facebook at work hardly prevents them from making negative remarks and observations about their employer.
“It is far better to cover things through the contract of employment – something along the lines of a clause that states that anything that the employee does that brings the organisation’s name into disrepute will be a disciplinary event,” says Clive Longbottom, principle analyst at Quocirca, a business research company.
“This then would include making negative remarks about the organisation via social networking. By moving away from a time-based approach to a deliverables focus on what the employee is expected to do, any use of Facebook, Twitter, eBay, ordering the Tesco shopping or just plain web surfing can be allowed – provided that the employee meets the expected deliverables.”
Are you allowed to use Twitter and Facebook at work? Hit the comments to let us know your thoughts. And if social media channels are banned at your company, I strongly recommend that you educate your boss.