As Facebook and other social media sites have gained popularity and expanded, managing their use at work has become an increasingly hot topic. Studies on the use of social media in the workplace conflict over how much it inhibits productivity. Should employees be allowed to access social media at work? Many offices have banned access to the Facebook site. The results are as mixed as the research. A National Business Ethics Survey (NBES) revealed that 11 percent of employees who engage in social networking are “active” social networkers who spend 30 percent or more of the workday on social networking sites. Many managers are conflicted as to whether this constitutes enough of a problem to be banned outright. Another study conducted by Nucleus Research (an IT research company) revealed a 1.5 percent loss of productivity for businesses allowing social media access. It found that 77 percent of Facebook users used the site during work for as much as two hours a day; 87 percent of those surveyed admitted they were using social media sites to waste time. NBES also found that active social networkers were more likely to find certain questionable behaviors to be acceptable, such as criticizing the company or its managers on social networking sites. Procter & Gamble realized that many of its employees were using social networking sites for nonwork purposes. Its investigations revealed that employees across the company were watching an average of 50,000 five-minute YouTube videos and listening to 4,000 hours of music on Pandora daily

However, an outright ban could cause problems. Some younger employees have expressed that they do not want to work for companies without social media access; they view restricting or eliminating access like removing a benefit. Employees at companies with an outright ban often resent the lack of trust associated with such a move and feel that management is censuring their activities. Other employees who use Facebook during their lunch hours or break times may feel that they are being punished because of others’ actions. Additionally, Procter & Gamble uses YouTube and Facebook extensively for marketing purposes. Banning these sites would disrupt the firm’s marketing efforts. An Australian study indicates that employees taking time out to pursue Facebook and other social media were actually 9 percent more productive than those who did not. Brent Coker, the study’s author and University of Melbourne faculty member, says people are more productive when they take time to “zone out” throughout the workday. Doing so can improve concentration. Coker’s study focused on those using less than 20 percent of the workday on such breaks, which is less than the amount of time “active” social networkers spend on these sites. Some companies actually encourage employees to use social networking as part of their integrated marketing strategy. In fact, not having a social media page such as Facebook or LinkedIn might be seen as a missed opportunity for marketing the firm. Even the law industry is starting to use social media on a more daily basis. One study of the top 50 highest ranked laws firms in the country determined that 64 percent use Facebook and 90 percent are on Twitter. Approximately 80 percent post something every day or once a week. Although larger law firms tend not to use social media as effectively as smaller law firms, the use of social media to interact with clients is clearly gaining throughout the industry.

Despite the benefits that companies have received from allowing their employees to use social media, many companies have gone ahead with social media bans. Procter & Gamble has restricted the use of Netflix and Pandora, but not Facebook or YouTube. Companies all need to ask, “Can management use social media to benefit the company?” If so, it may be more advantageous to take the risks of employees using social media for personal use if they can also be encouraged to use social networks to publicize their organizations, connect with customers, and view consumer comments or complaints. By restricting social media use, companies may be forfeiting an effective marketing tool. Additional Materials

: Guiding Questions

1. Why do you think results are so mixed on the use of social networking in the workplace?

2. What are some possible upsides to utilizing social media as part of an integrated marketing strategy, especially in digital marketing?

3. What are the downsides to restricting employee access to social networking sites?

Whatsapp us.