Should Companies restrict Employees’ Social Media use?

It is not uncommon to see companies restricting (or even worse, banning) use of Social Networking sites by their employees. I don’t think that this is a step in the right direction. If companies can trust their employees to run business, can’t they be trusted when it comes to using Social Media in an acceptable way?

IBM is a great example of how companies should handle employees’ use of Social Media. IBM has approximately 400,000 employees spread through out the world, still it allows them to use Social Media without much restrictions. Casey Hibbard has written an excellent blog post on how IBM uses Social Media to spur employee innovation (see this link).

As per Casey’s post, IBM lets employees communicate with each other and the public over Social Media channels without intervention. This in spite of the fact that IBM has:

  • A few thousand “IBMers” on Twitter
  • Thousands of external bloggers,
  • Almost 200,000 on LinkedIn
  • 17,000 internal blogs
  • 100,000 employees using internal blogs
  • 53,000 members on SocialBlue (like Facebook for employees)
  • As many as 500,000 participants in company crowd-sourcing “jams”
  • 50,000 in alum networks on Facebook and LinkedIn

Watch this CNBC interview with Adam Christensen, IBM’s Social Media Communications Manager and John Abell, New York Bureau chief, Wired.com. According to Adam, IBM’s job is to help employees go out and have conversations that they want to, so that they can lead the business they are involved in. Not allowing employees to use Social Media is “short sighted” and companies will be “missing an opportunity”. (watch this video for more)

To succeed in this new age, it is important to embrace and adopt changes brought about by Social Media. And for that to happen, it is critical that organizations have proper guidelines for Social Media use by their employees. Employees should be allowed to use Social Media freely within those guidelines. (for IBM’s guidelines, see this link and for an excellent database of Social Media usage policies of 116 organizations, see this link).

I want to end this post by sharing a thought provoking video on how the workforce is changing in Social Media Age. Please watch this video and let me know if companies should restrict employees’ Social Media use.

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10 responses to “Should Companies restrict Employees’ Social Media use?

  1. Twitter is usually also addictive, the idea basically keeps myself from spending plenty time with our relatives!

  2. Twitter is usually also addictive, the idea basically keeps myself from spending plenty time with our relatives!

  3. Pingback: Intriguing question:Should Companies restrict Employees’ Social Media use? from Dr. Harish Kotadia « Fredzimny's Blog

  4. As time goes by, more and more businesses are opening up their gated walls and allowing their employees access to these channels. They have to. The more that you empower your employees and trust them the more that they will trust you back. Also, the cream will always rise to the top, and if someone is going to under-perform because of these additional channels, then they will be found much easier and let go. The more that Social tools are incorporated within the SCRM aspect, the more that businesses have to open up.

  5. Thanks Mike for visiting my blog and for your comment. I agree with you that as time goes by, more and more businesses will open up their gated walls and allow their employees access to these channels. This will become “normal” or “routine” the way we take internet access from work for granted today.

    I also agree that smart employees will use Social Media channels effectively and rise to the top. The challenge for organizations is to make sure that personal goals and organizational goals point in the same direction so as to leverage “intrinsic” motivators of employees, else employers may lose their “smart” and Social Media “empowered” employees, who may use Social Media effectively and find better career options!

    Thanks again for your comment, much appreciated.

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  6. Thanks Mike for visiting my blog and for your comment. I agree with you that as time goes by, more and more businesses will open up their gated walls and allow their employees access to these channels. This will become “normal” or “routine” the way we take internet access from work for granted today.I also agree that smart employees will use Social Media channels effectively and rise to the top. The challenge for organizations is to make sure that personal goals and organizational goals point in the same direction so as to leverage “intrinsic” motivators of employees, else employers may lose their “smart” and Social Media “empowered” employees, who may use Social Media effectively and find better career options!Thanks again for your comment, much appreciated.Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  7. Pingback: Social Media tools can help your career, or not (if you ignore it).

  8. Pingback: Getting Staff Engaged in a Company’s Social Media Activities | ShapeshifterID's Blog

  9. Oh nice, thanks for your information!

  10. I think it’s a great opportunity for both the company and its employees to be able to use social media sites freely, just like what IBM is doing. But there are still those who find it useful to make use of systems in order at least have adequate internal controls, just in case problems do occur when it comes to employees who still abuse their internet privileges. Sometimes we can’t really avoid some employees who may try to make their own rules. Again, it’s best to have an internet usage policy but it’s difficult to be implementing them if there are those who still ignore them. See why some companies do use these systems in their organization.

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