In today’s tech-connected world, social media use has exploded. While businesses once restricted the use of social media in the workplace, many are now embracing the practice, and for good reason. Millennials, who now make up a vast portion of today’s workforce, have already incorporated social media into nearly every aspect of their lives. And they have come to expect that they can use familiar social platforms in the course of performing work-related tasks. This mindset is a plus for forward-thinking businesses, as the integration of HR software with social media can increase productivity by improving communication, collaboration, and efficiency throughout the entire organization. However with the use of online platforms, one needs to make sure they follow proper social media etiquette.
The Importance of Social Media Etiquette
To be effective, social media use in the workplace must come with certain guidelines and rules of etiquette. Many of these rules are based on common sense and courtesy, and the sooner new employees put them into practice, the better it will be for all concerned. To that end, here’s a look at five social media etiquette practices that new hires should adopt.
- Conform to the Culture – Understanding and abiding by a company’s written social media policies is vital for new employees. But just as important is getting to know and conforming to the unspoken rules of social media etiquette that exist within the company’s culture. These are the rules that evolve organically within the workplace community. The unwritten dos and don’ts that arise out of an atmosphere of mutual respect between coworkers, coupled with the desire to make the social media experience within the workplace more efficient, productive, and pleasant for all concerned.
- Keep it Work Related – Sharing through social media is so commonplace today that it can be difficult for employees to draw the line between personal and work-related activities. And that can make them less productive. As a result, many organizations opt for HR software programs that come with social HR features to help ensure that workplace social use stays predominantly work oriented. But ultimately it is up to employees to police their actions so that social media activities permitted at work remain work related.
- Show Respect for Others – With social media use there is a tendency to not filter thoughts or comments as carefully as you would face to face. This can lead to postings, intentional or otherwise, that can come across as thoughtless, disrespectful or downright offensive. At the very least, disrespectful comments on social can lead to disharmony among coworkers. At their worst, inflammatory posts can destroy trust and disrupt communication and collaboration between employees, not to mention harming the company’s reputation and causing it to lose business. Before posting comments, employees using social media in and out of the workplace need to honestly ask themselves if those comments show respect by being polite, constructive and non-offensive.
- Keep Confidential Information Confidential – When it comes to deliberately posting confidential reports and documents online, that’s a line that employees know they should not cross. But in this age of constant sharing, even seemingly innocent comments on social platforms may reveal sensitive and proprietary corporate information that should be kept confidential. Taking to Twitter or LinkedIn to post personal updates or to brag about or bemoan sensitive projects that they are working on at the office is something that all employees must avoid.
- Abide by the Golden Rule – The primary directive upon which all other rules of etiquette are based is to simply treat others the way you want them to treat you. Work frustrations and conflicts between coworkers should be worked out personally and respectfully within the proper channels. Social platforms should never be used by employees to vent or rant or to air workplace grievances or to try to embarrass business leaders of colleagues–no matter how justified they may feel at the time. A better approach for solving workplace problems is to address issues offline and online in a respectful, polite and constructive manner.
Social media is changing the way organizations do business. Those organizations that establish sound guidelines for using social media in the workplace—at the same time cultivating a culture that encourages employees to embrace good social media practices in the spirit of better collaboration and higher productivity—stand to reap the full benefits that social media can provide.
Learn more about marketing, business management, and social media.
Malcolm Rowlings – Business Management & Staffing Consultant