Thursday, October 8, 2009

Companies are banning social networking. Should you?

According to a recent survey by Robert Half Technology (courtesy of Tresa Baldas at, more than half of employers completely prohibit their employees from visiting social networking sites during working time. The complete results are as follows:

  Prohibited completely 54%
  Permitted for business purposes only 19%
  Permitted for limited personal use 16%
  Permitted for any type of personal use 10%
  Don’t know/no answer 1%

I’ve been answering a lot of questions lately on social networking. It does not seem realistic to totally ban all social networking at work. To effectively implement a total prohibition you must either turn off internet access, install software to block certain sites, or monitor employees’ use and discipline offenders. These options, though, stifle business-related productivity, are expensive, or are time consuming. Do you really want all employees not to be able to access the internet for any purpose? Do you have the manpower to dedicate to around-the-clock monitoring of employees’ online activity?

The better option is to allow limited personal social networking during business hours. If you treat employees respectfully and professionally, in most cases they will return the courtesy. This is not to suggest that you act naively. You also need to have a social networking policy to cover those circumstances when employees abuse the privilege through excessive use or inappropriate postings. For more on drafting a social networking policy, read Drafting a social networking policy: 7 considerations.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or