Workplace policies on social media essential as survey reveals one-fifth of job seekers want full access

Businesses that haven’t already set up policies about how their staff use social media in the workplace should do so quickly or risk becoming irrelevant to job seekers, according to a new survey.

The results of the Hays Tomorrow’s Workforce report also suggest while businesses don’t need to spend a disproportionate amount of time creating a social media policy, it will still affect how potential employees see the company and affect your reputation.

“It’s becoming pretty clear that employers and employees are seeing social media as part of everyday life,” Hays regional director Shane Little told SmartCompany this morning.

“If you’re not thinking about these policies, you run the risk of having a negative impact on your brand.”

The survey, which questioned 870 employers and candidates, found 19.7% of job seekers would consider turning down a job if they didn’t have “reasonable access” to Facebook and other similar sites during work hours.

Half of those surveyed already said they use social media for personal reasons, and of those 13.3% said they access these sites daily.

And employers are on board, with 44.3% believing that allowing employees to have access to social media will improve retention levels. One third of respondents allow access already, and 43.2% allow limited access. Only 23.7% don’t allow any access.

Little says while the survey didn’t go into which demographics want more access to social media, “gut instinct” suggests those respondents would be in their late teens and twenties – a group that has grown up with constant access to social media.

Little says businesses that don’t have a policy, need one.

“Ideally, you would have a situation where employees are given full access to social media and people respond to that trust by managing their time effectively. But that doesn’t happen.”

He says businesses can allow full access, which will be welcomed by employees but runs the risk of lost productivity. Allowing access at certain times can be complicated, he says, especially if you’re actually blocking those sites from being accessed.

“Not every organisation has the capabilities to do that,” he says.

One of the more important findings was that 25.3% of respondents didn’t have a clear idea of how to represent their companies on social media.

Businesses have found themselves in hot water over situations where employees have said inappropriate things on Facebook or Twitter, reflecting badly on the company.

Hays says businesses need to not only detail how social media can be used during work hours, and if it will be monitored, but also if employees can use their work emails for social media accounts and how complaints about the company should be handled.




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