One of the hot topics discussed by managers in the classroom is what to do about employee use of social media at work. Many employees use tools like LinkedIn and Facebook in the course of their job, so naturally, they have a "business need" for access. But what about the employees who do not need to be online to complete their work assignments? Should there be any rules on how often and how much time people spend online? One manager reported recently that his organization sets aside 15 minute "tech breaks" each morning and afternoon for employees to check social media sites.
Debate over what constitutes "time-theft"is nothing new. Some organizations have no guidelines on private calls during work hours while others carefully monitor them. We often hear from managers that they are more tolerant with regard to cell phone usage with their knowledge workers, whether it be texting, calling or accessing the Internet.
Some managers say employee use of social media is fine as long as an employee is getting his work done. Others insist that if employees have time to use social media at work, they could take on additional tasks. Then there is the question of whether an employee reads his work e-mail and responds to customers during non-working hours. The line between work and personal time is blurring.
Obviously, some types of work prohibit use of mobile devices altogether. Manufacturing, driving or patient care can involve safety concerns, yet managers report that employees continue to use their cell phones and tablets despite the rules. Doing so in these instances would seem to be a clear violation of policy. But, for many types of work, it is a gray area. One thing we hear consistently from our managers is that many employees regard their devices as part of their "person" and believe they have a right to use them at any time. What's your policy? Do you even need one?