To my continued amazement, I am still coming across people and organisations that want to ban, block, clamp down on or otherwise put their head in the sand on all things social media.
Recently, I came across an on-line discussion about whether or not companies should seek to restrict what people put in their LinkedIn profile. I mean how, why? I struggle to comprehend that there are still companies out there that block access to social media for their employees. I would say to them simply this. Your employees all have a smart phone. If you don’t let them check in at their desk, then they will take their Iphone to the toilet instead. If your employees are going to time waste, then they will find a way to do that anyway, with or without Facebook, so far better to deal with the source of the problem rather than throw the Facebook out with the Twitter.
OK or not OK
I read an article recently that said there was no need for an organisation to have a social media policy. Now the employee relations person lurking inside of me can’t accept that; we know that in reality employees need some guidance from their employer on what is considered acceptable or otherwise at their place of work. However you don’t need a policy that would rival a Tolkien novel. Where I work our Social Media policy has eight bullet points, all of which really add up to us telling our employees to be sensible. Interestingly, I heard of an employer recently who had taken exactly this approach, not just with their social media policies, but on other policies such as gifts and hospitality. Two word employment policies; maybe we should try it?
It’s the future………….
We have seen massive shifts in how we communicate in recent years, and this is set to continue. We are only going to be more connected; it is estimated that by 2025 5 Billion people will be connected by mobile devices. If you haven’t read it, I heartily recommend ‘The Future of Work is Already Here’ by Lynda Gratton, from which I lifted the previous fact.
Evidence suggests that Gen Y and Z (i.e. yourfuture talent) are increasingly interested in the policies of prospective employers on BYOD and social media. They just aren’t going to want to work for someone who fails to recognise the business benefits of Facebook, Yammer and the rest, but instead sees them as a threat to productivity or reputation.
Most recruiters get it and have done for some time. Let’s face it, if you haven’t started to advertise your vacancies or promote your employer brand via social media then you are snoozing your day away. But it’s not enough to just use social media for recruitment.
It should go without saying, but seems to not be getting through to all. If you ban social media then you, and your employees, are missing out on so many opportunities. Where should I start? Building your employer brand, advertising your vacancies, networking, on-boarding new starters, keeping in touch with your alumni, supporting your employee referral scheme, engaging with passive candidates – I could go on. A lot.
BYOD is another example of a movement which gives some HR people the shivers. But do you really want to be the department that says no to all things new and cool?
Maybe I am being harsh on some of my HR colleagues. I know very well that sometimes HR people are stuck writing the policy document for a decision they weren’t involved in, or have management teams that are closed to change. But put simply if you are adverse to social media or advancements in technology, or who simply work for organisations that are, be prepared to be left behind (and seriously struggle to recruit and retain Gen Y).
Do you think this is purely an HR issue, or could it perhaps be driven by short-sightedness on the part of executive management teams who lack an understanding of the situation? In other domains, for example around supporting innovation or BYOD (as you put in your post), I’d suggest we see similar styles of management engagement symptomatic of poor understanding
Maybe it’s our job to clearly explain the benefits along with the actions needed to garner those benefits?
No I don’t think it is just a HR issue. I do think though within the HR field there is a great deal of comment about the risks of things like social media, and comment risk of employment claims etc, which can serve to fuel the desire to regulate rather than try to leverage the benefits. I couldn’t agree more that it is our job to ensure that people have a a balanced view of risk v reward.
I love the way you challenge as well as support HR. I have spent 14 months developing a tool to help organisations and employees discover their potential (rather than their limitations which I believe performance management tools do) . The scary thing is that I have been advised by those with scars to prove it to stay away from HR because thy will kill something new like this. I am starting though, to see more discussion in HR circles about focusing more in human potential than limits. So more power to you!!!! Hopefully my reply won’t get me shot!