Learning & Development

Workplace Social Media Etiquette and Usage

Social media is so ubiquitous today that it’s hard to imagine most people spending any substantial amount of time not engaged with social media. While the technology and delivery models are relatively novel, humans have always been social creatures, and social media is a virtual extension of that.

Use of Social Media at Work

But what about social media use at work? For the most part, social media is a leisure activity engaged in for fun, not a productive, work-related use of time. Additionally, unlike a one-on-one gossip session with a trusted confidant, social media can have an enormous audience, giving friends—and even employers—an unprecedented view into workers’ personal lives.

To celebrate Social Media Day (June 30), Monster polled American workers for their perspectives on social media usage and etiquette in the workplace, considering the ever-evolving techno-social world.

More than half (57%) of workers think most social media use in the workplace is unprofessional, though 46% of workers admitted to spending up to 4 hours on social media for personal use during working hours, according to Monster.

Creating Connections

The Monster survey also found that, although social media is a way to connect with family, friends, and colleagues, the majority of workers (62%) say their coworkers don’t follow them on their personal social media platforms (excluding work-related social media sites like LinkedIn).

Additional Findings

Additional findings related to social media use at work from this study include:

  • Half (50%) of workers prefer that their employers not follow them on social media so they can avoid mixing their personal and professional lives; 22% are actually afraid of their employers finding their personal social media accounts.
  • The majority (86%) of workers who are afraid of their employers finding their personal accounts are afraid they will be judged for what they post or because they follow accounts or post content that may be controversial or unsuitable for work.
  • More than half—56%—think it’s unethical for employers to scan or scroll through their employees’ social media accounts (excluding work-related social media like LinkedIn).

Social media is firmly engrained into the global consciousness and communication practices, and it’s not realistic to keep such platforms out of the workplace entirely. Still, it’s important for employers to consider the impacts social media use can have on their workers and their organizations and to consider appropriate policies to manage that use.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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