6 Things You Must Know About Social Media and Your Workforce

To Our Readers: This week, TLNT is continuing our annual tradition by counting down the 30 most popular and well-read posts of this past year. This is No. 15. Our regular content will return on Monday January 2, 2012.
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By Eric B. Meyer

Cisco just completed this study, which shows just how much social media, device freedom, and mobile work means to the next generation.

Thinking about banning social media in the workplace? Before you flip the kill switch, read this:

  • More than half of students (55 percent) and an even larger proportion of end users (62 percent) indicate they could not live without the Internet; and one-third of respondents in each subgroup consider the Internet to be as important as water, food, air, and shelter.
  • Half of those surveyed would rather lose their wallet or purse than their smart phone or mobile device.
  • More than two out of five 20-somethings would accept a lower-paying job that offered more choices in the device they use at work, social media access, and mobility compared with a higher-paying job with less flexibility.

Can you handle a productivity hit?

So it would appear that your young workforce seemingly can’t live without a Facebook fix. But can you handle the productivity hit? Consider these numbers:

  • Nearly three quarters of your young college-educated workforce indicate accessing their Facebook page at least once a day or more frequently. 1 in 10 have their Facebook pages up all day.
  • Seven in ten young college-educated employees have friended a co-worker, manager, or both on Facebook.
  • Approximately 43 percent of college students admit being distracted or interrupted by social media, IM, phone, or a desire to check Facebook, at least three times per hour.

For a good summary of the Cisco survey, click on the infographic on the left or click here for a summary of these surprising numbers.

Whatever your position on social media in the workplace, address it at the job interview.

The reality is that even if you restrict network access to social media, employees — young and old — are going to whip out their smartphones and hit up Facebook, Twitter and the Internet.

A question for the job interview

Obviously, each company has to decide for itself, whether employee use of social media is a good thing for business, a bad thing for business, or no thing at all. For those who consider it a bad thing, consider asking about social-media usage during the job interview. If you don’t bring it up, expect that college-grad candidate to broach the subject. The Cisco study indicates that two-thirds of college grads ask about social-media policies in job interviews.

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When the topic of social media comes up, don’t ask candidates for their social-media logins and passwords to access to their private sites. That shows a complete lack of trust and, frankly, a candidate who takes precautions to protect what they post on the Internet from your eyes shows good judgment.

But, much like candidates will want to know whether Facebook at the office is feasible or firewalled, you should ask questions about the quantity — not quality — of social-media use. This will help you to determine whether these candidates, if hired, will devote more time in the office to work versus commenting on Facebook from work about work.

Attorney Eric Meyer will be leading a group of HR professionals in a panel discussion on Social Media in the Workplace – Where is it Today, Where is it Going Tomorrow? at the TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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