Is Facebook Good for Work? Your Employer Doesn’t Give a F*ck

Social media is the new tool every one is talking about, and you might be surprised to know that is quite the trending topic among the Human Resources industry.  Companies and HR Teams are seeing value in corporate blogs, LinkedIn Corporate profiles, and company Facebook Fan Pages as tools to communicate with employees, candidates, and customers.  But sometimes, we forget about tools and platforms that we can leverage inside of the organization like wikis, corporate portals, blogs, and company social networks.  These are great solutions that companies can leverage providing their employees an internal Facebook alternative.  In short internal social media tools that impact our lives at work.

Your Employer Doesn’t Care If Facebook is Good for Work

And I’m excited about the prospect and opportunity of internal social networking platforms while also realizing the sheer amount of education our business leaders, HR pros, and executives need in the real world because of questions from my readers like this.

One of members of my HR group is searching for resources and information for assistance with employees on Facebook at work.  The company had IT block Facebook on office computers because of employees abusing during working hours, but that did not solve the problem, the employees just shifted their time on Facebook at work to their cell phones.  Next step is to issue a policy about restricting use of personal cell phones at the office.  How would you suggest she handle?  Have you seen a policy about restricting personal cell phone use at work?

My answer to this question is simple.  Put yourself into the employees shoes.  If you ban me (employee)  from my favorite site, I will find a work around.  Essentially, your employee is saying, “F*ck you, Company X.  I don’t value your rules or restrictions.  I’m smarter than you and will find a way.  In fact, I don’t think you’ll even have a clue.  I’m a good employee.  My boss takes an hour and a half smoke break so I’m entitled to spend time on Facebook.”

In short, that is exactly what your employees are saying.  F*ck You.  You don’t value me and I don’t value you, and it’s probably not  because they aren’t good workers but because they are tired of being treated like mindless drones who are treated like they can’t make informed decisions about the business for themselves.

And when you ban Facebook at work and the use of cell phones at work you are politely telling them, “We think you are a bunch of slackers who just surf on Facebook, text, and YouTube.  We’re tired of your lazy attitude.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just those IT guys who are abusing social media or the CEO’s daughter who is constantly updating her page.  We know what you’re doing, and we’re going to control it.  We don’t give a damn if you’re a happy and productive employee.  We just want you to work long hours and be miserable.  We pay you to work, not f*ck around on the internet. ”

The solution may seem simple.  Ban all access to non-work computers and even mobile phones.  Who is going to oversee and manage this new 1985-like policy within your organization?  And do you really think that all your BlackBerry addicted executives are going to follow the policy to the letter setting a good example for the rest of your organization?

So instead of attacking this solution by removing access, provide them a location in which to learn, grow, and spend their time socializing with the company and work in mind.  That’s exactly what an internal social network is about.  Creating a community and a solution that says, “We care about you employee.  We understand you want to update your status and look at your BFF from high school’s cheesy updates.  You can certainly do that but do not abuse this benefit.  We have created this snazzy internal Facebook-like platform so you can connect with your colleagues and satisfy your need to socialize with the world during work.  This platform is a place to share information, ideas, and sometimes life things like your love of dogs or favorite books.  And we trust you to use this with your best judgment.  In fact, that’s exactly why we hired you.”

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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