How to stop employees procrastinating on social media

04 October 2017

Social media’s unarguably a massive part of modern day society. Whether it’s sending selfies on snapchat, catching up on celebrity gossip or sharing the weekend’s shenanigans, almost everyone’s on it for one reason or another.

While all of the above is only natural outside of work, it can soon become a pain when it impedes on workplace productivity.

According to research*, social media is the third biggest workplace distraction. One in 10 employees admit they regularly check their profiles to the point it significantly eats into their working hours.

So, how can you stop it?

Set your stance

To take action on social media over-usage in the workplace, you need to be clear from the off with regards to your expectations, allowances and consequences. We’d recommend having a specific and well-communicated social media policy in place to assist with this.

Prevention

There are several approaches you might decide to take to prevent social media impeding on productivity…

1. If you’ve employees working on computers, you could block access to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so they’re not able to freely flick between tabs on their PC.

2. It’s all well and good blocking access, but with smartphones left, right and centre, it’s suffice to say that’s not always enough. In your policy, you could either:

a) Define that social media usage is not permitted at work at any time

b) Set out time limits for which social media may be used

c) Clearly outline that social media usage is strictly limited to breaks.

In particular, it’s advisable to set out rules about usage of personal phones. For example, you could have a rule that employees must not have them out on desks, and should only use them in an emergency during work hours.

Boundaries

When setting social media boundaries, remember to consider variations needed for employees who use social media as part of their job. Realistically, it wouldn’t be reasonable to block their access or limit their usage if it’s needed for the bulk of their work.

In this case, you may need a separate set of standards, whereby you outline your expectations in terms of personal and business usage of social media.

Taking action

If you’ve employees who’re blatantly disregarding your social media policy, in the first instance, we’d recommend you try to resolve the issue informally. Pull the employee in question to one side and inform them that their behaviour will not be tolerated if continued.

In some cases, you might find the above step is enough to deter the employee from pursuing with their social media antics.

If the informal route proves unsuccessful, providing you have sufficient evidence to suggest the employee’s social media usage is impacting their performance and/or is in breach of your rules, you’d be within your rights to proceed with disciplinary action.

Remember, when going down the disciplinary road, you must follow a fair and consistent process throughout, and follow the procedure set out in your handbook – don’t have a handbook? We can help you out.

Got a question?

If you’ve got a question on anything social media-related, get in touch with our HR & Employment Law experts on 0345 844 1111. With anything from policies to disciplinary procedures, they’ve got your back.

*According to research conducted by Clarendon London.

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