Our multi-generational workplaces are ever-evolving. And with that evolution comes new technology. As a manager, you must decide how to address Social Media in the workplace and decide what is appropriate for your organization. Here are some factors to consider when making those decisions. Proactive and generationally relevant rules about use of social media are absolutely essential for every organization to put in place and review frequently. While many organizations have been escalating the “corporate parental control” functions to manage the flow of communications and block social media outlets, the maxim “That’s just how we do it here” is going to be very costly to stand by as companies quickly find that it is dramatically decreasing morale and retention of top talent.
Millennials entering the workforce are coming from a world of being a split second away from updates, insights, and entertainment by their friends, parents, and peers. They walk into your organization expecting to have immediate access and communication with whom they want in the media they favor. This expectation is causing friction points for many organizations that have protocols and policies that dictate how and with whom you communicate up and down the chain-of-command. In a Pew Research Survey1 of Millennials in the workplace, 75 percent of Millennials say it’s critical to their job satisfaction to have access to social media in the workplace. The point will soon become a mute one since, as personal technology becomes more accessible in pricing, employees will bring their own access. In a follow-up question, respondents shared that if social media outlets are not allowed on their work computers, they will just access them on their personal mobile phones.
Millennials have grown up only knowing communication with the integration of technology. Much of the self broadcasting and sharing about their lives, friends, and feelings begins at the Millennial HQ, otherwise known globally as “Social Media.” Through participating in online communities where information is shared visually, audibly, and in text format, Millennials’ home base foundation for their lives is social media.
The expectation that Millennials will go cold-turkey in the office from 24/7 access to friends and family is somewhat akin to expecting every smoker to be able to stop in one day with no problem. The minor difference in this metaphor is that Millennials don’t see their reliance on social media interactions as a negative addiction. Analyize the needs of your organization and develop a Social Media policy that is appropriate for your employees and your company’s long term goals.