The Need for Effective Organizational Policies on Social Media and Personal Devices

The Need for Effective Social Media and Smartphone Policies

In these times, when Social Media usage and Smartphone ownership is pervasive and has seeped through all the people who are online, it is essential for organizations and the HR (Human Resources) managers to devise effective policies regulating the use of Social Media and Personal Smartphone devices in the workplace.

Indeed, the fact that the typical employee in any organization, large or small, brings his or her own Smartphone to work and browses through Social Media during work hours means that the organizational policies regulating the usage and browsing during office hours must not only be effective in times of delineating official and personal work but also sensible in that they cannot rule out any use of personal devices.

Balance Organizational and Employee Needs

This is the reason why many organizations and the HR functions try to balance the need to prevent employees from wasting their time at work and the inevitability of employees finding ways and means to browse social media and use their personal devices at work.

This means that organizations cannot just ban employees from bringing their personal devices or browsing social media and at the same time, they also cannot let the employees use the organizational resources such as Wi-Fi and official internet access to spend time on social media.

Indeed, this is a genuine dilemma for contemporary organizations and the HR Managers as they navigate this minefield where any extreme position is likely to meet with resistance and demoralization of the workforce.

Organizational Mandated Devices

Thus, what many HR Managers do is that they often permit the employees to bring their own devices to work and ensure that such devices do not pose a security threat to the organizations.

To explain, bringing personal devices means that the employees are “exposing” the organizational networks to external parties in the cyberspace who can indeed exploit the vulnerabilities in the networks and hack into them. Further, browsing social media during work hours using either the organizational internet or their own personal Mobile Networks can also open up the organizational networks to hackers and other undesirable elements.

This is the reason why many organizations provide Smartphones that are approved by the Systems staff and certified as being secure to the employees. The hope is that by co-opting the employees into the organizational cyberspace, they can be made to behave responsibly. Moreover, organization provided devices are often secured using advanced anti-hacking and antivirus software and hence, deemed to be less likely to be prone to hacking.

Indeed, this is akin to the policies in the 1990s and the 2000s (before the advent of the Smartphones) wherein organizations started providing laptops to employees to ensure that their onsite activities, as well as work from home browsing, are monitored and regulated.

Bring Your Own Device and Monitor, Track, and Regulate Usage

One needs to remember that any organization or corporate does not let their employees access to any facility unless such access can be tracked and monitored and regulated and in addition, enforce rules and punish violations.

The same is true for company-provided laptops and in the present times, many organizations and the HR Managers are veering to the view that such policies can also be adapted to the Smartphone usage.

Apart from company provided Smartphones, many organizations have a BYOD or Bring Your Own Device to work policy wherein they load the devices with company approved software and apps and then permit the employees to use such devices.

Thus, as with any business trend, organizations do evolve with the times and the latest challenge for HR Managers and the Systems staff is to ensure that personal device usage and social media browsing are monitored and regulated to assert control over such usages.

Loss of Productivity and Managerial Control

Apart from this, the other challenge for HR Managers is to ensure that precious organizational time is not wasted on excessive use of social media by the employees that can lead to loss of productivity and other time wasting activities.

Indeed, this is a very real challenge and when the internet first emerged, many organizations were reluctant to provide internet access to the employees out of such fears related to security and productivity.

In the authorís working experience, it was not well into the 2000s that organizations started providing internet access to all employees that hitherto was restricted to the senior and the middle managers.

In addition, the Systems staff used to send browsing details to the immediate managers to let them know how much time their subordinates were spending on the internet as well as to monitor whether such online activities can lead to security risks for the organizations.

Further, it was also the case that most websites were blocked at the organizational firewall and there were dedicated terminals to check Emails and such sites so that any “worms” or “viruses” could be filtered and blocked before they played havoc with the organizational networks.

Need for Effective and Sensible Approaches

Lastly, as mentioned in the title and the introduction, the organizational policies governing Smartphone and Social Media usage have to be both effective and sensible so that all stakeholders are taken aboard to be responsible players in the organizational ecosystem.

Thus, extreme actions such as banning such activities or permitting them in full can cause problems and hence, finding the balance between personal entertainment and official responsibilities is the key to devising sensible and effective policies governing social media and Smartphone usage by the employees during office hours.

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