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Employers beware, your staff could be addicted to Facebook

A survey of local internet users has given employers reason for concern, with 30 percent reportedly checking Facebook five or more times a day. But a blanket social media ban might not be the right answer for every business.

The Canstar Blue survey, undertaken following aUS report which claiming that social networking sites can be more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes, found females were only slightly more likely to obsess over their Facebook account than men, with 29 percent logging in five or more times a day, compared with 25 percent of males.

Unsurprisingly, Generation Y was found to be most addicted to Facebook, with a high 56 percent excessively attached to their Facebook account compared, compared to 39 percent of Generation X-ers and a modest 13 percent of baby boomer respondents.

“There are many positive aspects to Facebook use, including an increased sense of community through contact with family, friends and prospective new friends,” Canstar Blue manager Rebecca Logan said.

Facebook use becomes a problem however, when it becomes so excessive that it eats into work commitments and impacts on an employees productivity levels.

According to EnBox director Hamish Anderson, though some employers might see these figures as evidence for the need to implement a blanket staff social media ban, there are a number of shortcomings to this approach:

  • Some users may require access to social media for the purposes of maintaining the company Facebook page, or to monitor tweets about the company. They need to be given exemption to the block out which can make others jealous of their access;
  • Smaller businesses usually reimburse employees for their mobiles, rather than supplying company contracted phones. As such, many employees can circumvent the firewall by accessing social platforms through their data connection on their phone. However, as data is generally slower through a mobile and because typing is slower on a smart phone, the time spent on the platform can increase as compared to on a computer;
  • Staff often feel like they are being treated like children;
  • Employees may decide to get clever and use proxy sites to get around your firewall. These sites allow staff to continue using social platforms, however, often at great cost to your business. What many don’t realise is that these proxies are often malware ridden platforms that infect the users’ computers and thus, as a business compromise your network and the valuable data you have on it;
  • Business owners miss a valuable opportunity to discuss social media with their staff and to discover new opportunities. Furthermore, this also means companies miss the chance to discuss the threats of social media and how they can affect the business and the individual; and
  • For example, many people do not realise that they should be aware of what they post online. Ideally they should protect their identity to some extent by allowing access to only people they know. Hackers are now using social media sites to create detailed profiles of potential targets and with this information are able to send through more detailed and ‘truthful’ phishing emails which have higher success rates on getting the recipient to click through to a dodgy website.

Anderson suggests employers implement a solid social media policy instead of banning its use outright, which should consist of:

  • Promote good social media security to employees at home and at work;
  • Regularly change passwords;
  • Profiles are locked down to friends only. This makes it harder for hackers to build profiles of your staff from their various platforms and therefore harder to develop phishing scams designed to grant access to your business network;
  • Promote the practice of getting employees to research suspicious emails by calling the sender to verify matters in the email. This will help prevent them falling prey to phishing scams;
  • Make employees aware of relevant IT risks, of new Spam, viruses and phishing threats and that you train them to know how to respond and to share their knowledge;
  • Consider what KPIs can be set in place to help monitor whether an employee’s efficiency or integrity is compromised by social media use at work, allowing you to make more informed decisions;
  • Seek to learn from the behaviour of your own staff and how they engage on social media; and
  • Have workshops on a regular basis to help your marketing staff learn from others. It’s almost like a free focus group.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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