social media policyMany firms have a social media policy that’s full of contradictions — likely making it unenforceable in a court of law. Commonly, the firm has a social media policy that bars users from accessing social networks from the office, while encouraging employees to spread positive messages about the firm in social networks. You really can’t have it BOTH ways.

Balanced Social Media Policy

A balanced social media policy is not only more enforceable, but helps you harness the vast power of social networks to amplify your message. Here’s what some respondents to a recent survey said about social media policy in the workplace:

Many years ago I worked at a place that was locked down with a very aggressive Websense proxy. This mentality was used throughout the company for motivation. They lost a lot of talent because of this, and I believe they are now on a verge of bankruptcy. Most desk jobs have busy times and slow times. If you give people the freedom for a little bit of personal time during the slow times, if makes the work environment much more enjoyable. The times when your work is needed the most, you are even more eager to complete the tasks at hand. Obviously, there are people that will take advantage of this. I believe this just makes it easier to spot these people. And they do not do much for company even with strict policies. The people who are self-motivated and take pride in their work will always shine even more with freedom and trust. tdell

Employers implementing policies like this are simply focusing on the wrong thing. Unless it is to meet some kind of security restriction, there really is no reason to block social media. Why is it so difficult to focus on the job and a given employee’s job performance instead? If they’re getting their work done, who cares? If they’re not, fire them and find someone who will, or work with them to make it work. Why waste all this time and energy on the periphery of the real issue – their inability to focus on their work?

These kinds of policies in fact tend to achieve the opposite effect. It sends a message to your employees that they aren’t to be trusted or respected. It kills morale and needlessly reduces productivity in the name of… well, productivity. RogWilco82

We’re allowed to use LinkedIn, but not facebook. Upper Management is all “go Twitter!” but it’s blocked on the firewall.

They can’t stop me from tweeting from my personal iPhone though, or posting my Twitter id on our org’s internal wiki site. Nope. No requests to remove that information from the wiki site yet either. But I’m waiting… I’m sure someone will say something eventually.

I’m such a rebel. Can’t let The Man bring me down. Fight the Power! Denise Gontard

Notice the problems created when employees find the firm’s social media policy unfair?

  • You lose valuable employees
  • Employee moral suffers and employees become LESS productive
  • Employees waste time finding ways AROUND your social media blocks
  • Employees simple switch to their smartphones to evade your blocks on social networking sites

Social Media Policy

Having a social media policy doesn’t help much. Respondents said these policies were commonly ignored and rarely seemed to “fit” the organization. Some social media policies were lifted from other organizations without any regard to their applicability. Consider this comment:

Officially, we are not allowed to use social media at work. But as far as I can tell, this policy was just dropped into the staff handbook without any actual thought as to what it means. The wording in the handbook is taken verbatim from another non-profit organization, and when the topic came up at a staff HR committee, meeting, my sense was that the HR manager barely realized this was an issue. Simone DelMonte

What’s Your Social Media Policy Like?

Do you have a social media policy at work?

Is the social media policy enforced?

Does the social media policy make sense?