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Rules of Engagement on Social Media

July 24, 2010
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The personal use of social media while working for an employer has me fired up and feel like ranting a bit – so that’s the plan for this rant! OK? Thank You!

What I can’t understand about many of the Generation Y is some of their habits while working on company time. I just don’t get it - NOPE. An employer hires an employee for the sole purpose of performing a specific job based on the skills they bring to the table. Guess what? Employers are not interested in having (and paying) employees to add photos and other content to their myspace.com page during working hours. That brings no value to the employer. And I mean NONE. That also applies to updating or replying to a posting on facebook.com. No place for that in the workplace either, NONE.

I have nothing against employees using social networks on their own time and think Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are great social media platforms to stay connected with their friends, family and classmates – all good. They are great tools in business as well – and that is exciting! I use them in my search practice every day. But its business related. All updating and posting of personal social media content should be done on the employee’s own time. That’s where I draw the line. Using these social networks on the employers nickel is just plain wrong. No exceptions - sorry. Employers hire employees and the value exchange in this relationship requires the employee to perform certain job functions in exchange for receiving a specified amount of compensation for their work effort. Spending time on social networking sites to update or post, comment, upload or just “check” the account for updates are grounds for the employer to take action for the lost productivity realized by the actions of the employee. Some experts are concerned about the security risks involved when employees access some of these sites. That is clearly an issue that needs to be resolved.

Many companies have banned the use of social media to curb its use during company hours – but it’s a real challenge. I wish it was getting better – but this challenge appears to be getting worse for employers all over the world. On any given day, employers can walk by an employee’s desk and the evidence is overwhelming. In a split second (all of the sudden) they will see an employee’s computer screen change in a nanosecond. One quick mouse click (lightning fast) will minimize the window on their screen and return the user back to another screen related to their work in an effort to convince the employer that they are working (really) hard. C’mon. This is a minor form of theft. It’s just wrong. Companies need rules and guidelines on the use of social media that is not business related - and need to clearly set boundaries with their staff.

I think I have said enough here. Please know social media is HUGE (I use it every day in my business) and it clearly has a place for both personal use and business use.

It’s just the intertwining of its use in personal vs. business that I have a problem with. A real problem…

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