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Are Social Media Spreading a Societal Disease?

June 27, 2014
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be wonderful tools until employees hijack them for personal use on company time.
Dan Charney

Employee misconduct on company computers, questionable and inappropriate posts and decreased productivity are why most companies have finally developed their own social networking policies. Now, more than ever, management must recognize it has the right and responsibility to monitor how employees use social media.

Not too long ago, a client that is a global manufacturer of material handling equipment asked me to help him replace a senior project manager who was recently fired due to misconduct and misuse of their computers. My client noticed that the employee hid his computer screen every time someone would walk past. Turns out, the employee was inking side deals and trying to launch his own start-up on company time and with company resources.

Another example of the misuse of a company computer is the candidate I interviewed who told me that she completed a couple of courses online to get ahead in her career. I found this admirable until she openly admitted to doing her homework online and on company time. All too often what employees do on the Internet has nothing to do with the work at hand.

In addition, a significant number of employees post information that they shouldn’t. Part of it is the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. In other words, we are so used to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter that we are haphazard about what we say and post. Furthermore, new mobile devices and apps have made it easy to post a photo or respond to an update that might be inappropriate. How many of us even stop to think about the consequences anymore?

Consider how easy it is now for a disgruntled employee to go onto these social media platforms and criticize their company, co-workers and customers. What an employee posts can damage a company’s reputation in the marketplace.

There have been many articles and blogs on the topic of what not to post online. Personally, I recommend reading the guide from SocialMedia Today entitled “11Things You Should Not Post Online."

Not only are companies worried about the misuse of their computer and what’s being posted, but they are also concerned about the time spent and wasted on social media. Employee productivity decreases and becomes a problem when they are connecting on LinkedIn, Facebooking, Tweeting, and watching YouTube videos.

About 46% of workers look for a new job while at their current place of employment and LinkedIn is the website of choice for those trying to network for that job. Their fishing expeditions on LinkedIn are costing you time and money.

While almost all social-media avenues can be used for positive and productive business purposes and companies will continue to embrace social media, employers should note that with more access to sites, more misuse and abuse is possible.

Whether it's in the hiring and recruitment process or when an employee is legally employed, setting a clear and specific standard for social media usage and guidance should be a requirement. Defining and monitoring what employees can and cannot do online in the workplace needs to be spelled out.

Dan Charney is president & CEO of Direct Recruiters, Inc. (DRI), a search firm for companies associated with material handling & logistics, packaging, capital equipment and automation systems. He can be reached at (440) 996-0589, [email protected] or

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