Why workplace social media bans do not work

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in The Legal Workplace Blog

Earlier this week, Entrepreneur.com ran a story entitled, “Why Banning Facebook In Your Workplace Is a Stupid Move.” The article cites a survey conducted by Statista and Mashable, which found that one out of every five American employees are blocked from accessing social media from the workplace. The story then lists four reasons why this practice is a bad idea:

  1. Alienating younger employees.
  2. Suggesting mistrust.
  3. Showing lack of support.
  4. Disrupting balance in the workplace.

Allow me to offer a fifth reason:

The iPhone.

We live in a mobile society. Employers should not operate under any pretense that banning employees from accessing social media from their workplace computers will stop them from Facebooking, Tweeting, or Instagramming. All an employee has to do to circumvent a workplace ban is remove his or her phone from his or her pocket.

Instead of trying to limit employees social media activities, embrace them. Don’t treat social media like a special problem that needs special attention. Treat it like any other employee performance issue. If an employee is performing, then ignore it; it’s not an issue. If, however, an employee is underperforming because he or she is spending too much time on social media, then treat the problem with that particular employee. The return you will receive from your employees as a result of the feelings of goodwill and trust will far outweigh that which you would otherwise receive if you cracked the workplace whip 40 hours a week.

Or, as Suzanne Lucas (the Evil HR Lady) recently put it, “Yes, Your Employees Use Social Media. Now Stop Spying on Them.”

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