Checking Facebook at work? Your boss likely doesn't like it

Oct 13, 2009 By Jeff Elder
Facebook logo

More than half of employers say they completely prohibit social media use by workers, according to a new survey of about 1,400 large U.S. companies. But what if the CEO is in her office using LinkedIn, your boss just invited you to become a fan of the company Facebook page, or your competitors are connecting with your clients on Twitter?

Welcome to one of the toughest issues facing employers: Is a valid part of our work life today, or is it "social not-working"?

"It's a blurry line," says Gary Henning, Charlotte-based district director for Robert Half Technology, which conducted the survey. "People are getting their arms around best practices, and there are a lot of concerns. This is a big topic for employers."

Employer Mark Gilman fired an employee whose became too much of a distraction, "and social media was a big part of that."

Gilman is president of Decus Communications, a marketing firm with offices in Michigan and Charlotte. He sees the value in social media, and uses it himself, but he sees a generational difference with employees.

"The thing that concerns me most is (that) millennials seem to be more concerned with than doing their jobs," Gilman said.

"If you're using social media at work and that's not your job, you should be fired," says productivity expert and author David Allen. But a lot depends on what you're doing on social networks, and what your company culture is. "We're still experimenting with what's OK."

And what's OK for one company is not for another, says Chris Boudreaux, who has worked with Forrester Research to create SocialMediaGovernance.com. The platform helps employers find good approaches, and includes a database of more than 100 social-media policies.

"In fact, social media practices vary from employee to employee, sometimes," says Boudreaux, who formerly worked in Charlotte for a predecessor of Bank of America. In a large bank, he says, it would be appropriate for communications and marketing staff to use social media at work. But someone processing checks should not be on the sites. Other experts say approaching social media from the standpoint of what employees can't do is the wrong approach.

"Clamping down on social media use doesn't work," says Richard Brasser, whose Targeted Group advises several top financial institutions on social media approaches. "With big companies, their normal slant, their gut reaction, is 180 degrees from where they need to be."

Brasser says fearing what employees will do on social media is like following your kids around to protect them. "You have to train them right, show them what to do, and what not to do, and then trust them some."

The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, which provides companies with information technology professionals. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 chief information officers from companies with 100 or more employees across the United States.

The survey asked, "Which of the following most closely describes your company's policy on visiting social networking sites, such as , MySpace and Twitter, while at work?" Fifty-four percent said their companies "prohibited completely" workers' use of social media; 19 perecent said "permitted for business purposes only"; 16 percent said "permitted for limited personal use"; 10 percent said "permitted for any type of personal use"; and 1 percent said "don't know/no answer."

Derek Kelley, a Wells Fargo operational risk consultant in Fort Mill, S.C., says his employer has been receptive to social media and basically takes a policy of asking employees to use common sense. Still, Kelley doesn't use Facebook at work, and says he only checks Twitter on his mobile device during lunch and on breaks.

But he says checking Twitter gives him access to useful computer links to financial sites, and actually helps him in his job. So why only check Twitter on his own time? "It just keeps things simpler."
___

(c) 2009, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).
Visit The Charlotte Observer on the World Wide Web at www.charlotte.com
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No Facebook at work in most US companies

Oct 08, 2009

More than half of US companies do not allow employees to visit social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter while at work, according to a new survey.

Scared of social media? Read this

May 07, 2009

Almost every day we receive questions about how to use Twitter -- both from online readers and people we meet in real life. The questions have been picking up since practically every media outlet jumped on the Twitter Train ...

Recommended for you

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

3 hours ago

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

17 hours ago

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

22 hours ago

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

23 hours ago

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

Aug 21, 2014

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

User comments : 0