There are many arguments against social networking using information technology within an organization; these risks as they are referred to include decreased productivity; network security breaches; bandwidths costs; network performance issues; legal liability; business information leaks and damage to organizational reputation.
‘Nucleus Research, an IT research company, reported in July 2009, that employee productivity drops 1.5 percent in companies that allows full access to Facebook in the workplace. That survey of 237 corporate employees also showed that 77 percent of workers who have a Facebook account use it during work hours. It also found that some employees use the social networking site as much as two hours a day at work, and that one in 33 workers surveyed use Facebook only while at work. And of those using Facebook at work, 87 percent said they had no clear business reason foe accessing the network’
In relation to our local survey of 59 respondents, working in either the private or public sector; 18 or 30.5 percent worked at management level; 19 or 32.2 percent worked in operations; 12 or 20.3 percent worked at the administrative level while 10 or 17 percent worked at the clerical or lower level. Analysis of the data showed that 94.9 percent of the respondents company has a computer policy and 94.9 percent used the computer for work. Of this amount 71.2 percent visits social networking sites at work although 69.5 percent agreed that there is a restriction on visiting these sites.
Interestingly, most respondent chiefly at the management and operations level who are usually the supervisors agreed that this contributes to time-wasting (34 persons/57.6 %), and that it places the company’s network at risk (35 persons/59.3 %). These groups unreservedly agreed that social networking sites should be banned.
The potential dangers of social networking sites to business were highlighted in the Observer of Thursday February 11, 2010. The Observer reported that former banking executive William ‘Bill’ Clarke, has filed a lawsuit against his former employer Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica (BNS) for allegedly setting up a fake profile with social networking site Facebook. Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica stands to lose millions of dollars if this lawsuit is concluded in favour of Mr. Clarke. The Observer also reported on Tuesday May 25, 2010 that the Jamaican government blamed social networking site for spreading ‘inaccurate and misleading’ information during the incursion of the security forces into Tivoli Gardens. The issues dealt with in these two reports highlights some of the challenges that organizations face with the social networking phenomenon.
To Ban or not
Some companies have sought to unilaterally block all employee access to social networking sites. Tools for restricting access to specific sites or to restrict total time spent on the internet are commonly used. This approach is usually unrealistic and unproductive; employees may simply continue their practices through techniques that are subjected to little or no regulation by the company. Time spent on these ‘back door’ approaches to social networking is additional time wasted at work.
If a company does not entirely ban social networking, it must provide reasonable rules and regulations governing the use of such technology or a Social Networking Policy. Basic elements of this policy should include but not limited to:
Notice: Make sure that any policies the company adopts are easily accessible to employees. Include them in orientation materials and employee manuals. Consider including reference to them on start-up screens for company-issued computers. Competence: Inform employees that they should not use any social media tool unless they really understand how it works. Offer frequent training regarding these technologies and the company’s approach to social networking.
Purpose: Remind employees that...