Social Media Usage in the Workplace

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Social media policies are the rules and limits established by a company to monitor and control its employees’ social media usage whilst in AND out of work. Their aim is to improve productivity and to protect their image – after all, one tweet can end up reaching thousands of people, and can even upset clients, investors and the like.
Despite the notion of social media policies stretching back more than a decade now, social media usage at work is rife. Not only that, it appears that social media policies are still lacking.
We commissioned a survey to analyse how employees use social media at work, and whether they were aware of social media policies at their place of employment.
We then used social data insight platform, Pulsar, to track phrases and sentiment surrounding the topic of work and jobs, to get an idea of what people were tweeting about.
What we found suggests that, for many companies, a review of social media policy is likely to be a worthwhile exercise.

The Situation and Risks

Our research suggests that 61.2% of workers in the UK either had no idea whether their company had a social media policy, or the company simply did not have one (31.6% didn’t know and 29.6% didn’t have one). This can leave both the company and employees in a whole load of bother for a number of reasons.
We’ve previously found that the average worker spends 52 minutes a day procrastinating, and that this time was most commonly spent on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. All this time adds up over the weeks, months and years, and it soon becomes a significant time and productivity drain. With so many companies failing to appropriately moderate this in a productive and guided way, it’s no wonder that so many employees are taking social media breaks into their own hands.
We wrote that allowing – even encouraging – employees to take social media breaks offers a better productivity return than banning it outright, as doing so only serves to drive the activity ‘underground’. In this most recent survey, what we found showed that, of those that accessed social media despite its restriction, 35.9% simply didn’t care at all about the restrictions, 23% said they did it because they knew how to get around the restrictions, and a massive 56.4% simply chose to use their smartphone to access social media as it was harder to get caught. This again paints a pretty poor picture of how effective social media policies were at restricting social media use and suggests that a blanket ban isn’t an ideal solution.

Negative Thoughts

We used Pulsar to track just a small selection of phrases, used on Twitter over a variety of timelines. Since we only tracked a few handpicked phrases, there could be a lot more of this sort of post happening, so the real picture could actually be much worse. Here’s the phrases we chose to track:
  • hate my job
  • hate my boss
  • hate my colleague
  • #hatemyjob
  • #hatemycolleague
  • #hatemyboss
  • #ihatemyjob
  • #ihatemycolleague
  • #ihatemyboss
  • #worksucks
  • #myjobsucks
  • #workhate
  • #workstress
  • #jobstress
  • #hatework
Based on this tracking, we found that an average of 135 employees are tweeting about hating their job every Friday, totalling 1,348 tweets about hating jobs, bosses and colleagues in 2017 – and that’s just on Fridays.


On top of that, we found that tweets containing these key phrases have gone up 4.36% YoY from 2016 – 2017.
Not only is this an extremely negative thing for a prospective or current client to potentially see, it can also be damaging for recruitment and general company morale. Posts like this can also have dire consequences for the tweeter themselves, as it is this negative perception such tweets carry than can be seen as gross negligence and as damaging the company image. We found that 15% of workers would actively turn to social media to vent their work frustrations, and 5.4% actually had already done this.

So, what can be done?

We’ve written before about the importance of regular breaks throughout a work day, so introducing – or reminding – workers that this is a fine and encouraged thing to do would be where we’d start. Taking a walk to the water cooler and chatting with a colleague can be one way of resetting for a few minutes. Similarly, but perhaps more importantly in light of our findings, catching up with a little social media can help both relieve some stress and reduce the temptation to dip into a little insta or check Facebook over and over throughout the day.
Refresher training for social media usage at work can also remind employees when and how it’s appropriate to access social media during the work day, and would be a great opportunity to remind them to take a break now and then.
How do you use social media and how is it restricted at work? Do you think it should be more or less controlled? Let us know over on Twitter @viking_chat.