Discuss about the Business Communication for Social Media Trends in Australian Workplace.
The social media work is continuously growing in an extraordinary way. With this comes its impact in all stages of the workplaces in Australia. Social media is realized during recruitment to the time that the employee is terminated (Davis, et al., 2016). In addition, employees that fail to keep up with the developments of social media will find themselves on the wrong side of the law or work ethics. This report discusses the negative impacts of social media in the Australian workplace by looking and different areas of employment. The report will also discuss some of the steps that employers can take to ensure that employees are able to comply with the work ethics and the law and still enjoy the use of social media.
Social Media Trends in Australian Workplace
According to a survey conducted by Matthew & Kelly, (2012), 48% of Australian employers report negative impact of social media when it comes to workplace productivity. The survey also was conducted by the Kelly service which is a global workforce solution provider. The survey also found that all around the world, 59 percent of people mix professional and personal connections with social media which eventually cause problems at the workplace. Also in Australia, even though social media continues to gain foot in the workplace, only 18 percent of employees would allow personal use of social media in the workplace, this is because of the disruptive nature of social media (Matthew & Kelly, 2012). This shows how social media use has almost become an entitlement for employees, however, most would refrain from the use when they understand the personal and professional impacts it can have on them negatively.
With regard to age groups, generation Y was on top of the list arguing that social media use is acceptable for personal use even at work (18%), this was in contrast to 17% of generation X and 11% of Baby boomers generation. It was also only 21% who felt that social media could be acceptable, when used to share opinions about work and other colleagues (Lucas, 2012). Of these respondents, six percent reported being ordered to stop using social media in the workplace, while 21 percent felt that social media played an important role in the organization (Erikson, 2009). However, all said, the spread of social media continues to grow in Australian workplace and has negatively affected in the following areas (Erikson, 2009):
Social Media and Recruitment
Davis, et al. 92016), argues that social media continues to alter the recruitment process in Australia. By the use of website such as LinkedIn, where employees get access to a wealth of employment opportunities. Social media has continued to bridge recruiters to candidates and potential employees to open opportunities (Hargie, 2011) (Johannesen, et al., 2008). As much as this might seem good, it has completely altered the vetting process since recruiters and employers will use the social media profile to determine whether the candidate is suitable for the task. Some recruiters used social media sites to screen potential employees. At this, some employers required candidates to befriend third parties on social media site like Facebook to know more about the candidates (Eunson, 2012).
This is a breach of the Privacy Act and can lead to deceptive conduct and a breach of the Australian Consumer Law (Dissel, 2014). In addition, such actions by employers also lead to the breach of professional code of conduct and code of ethics. Social has also led to cases of discrimination of applicants since potential employer may not be in a position to demonstrate information that was sourced from the social media site to rate employee performance during interviews (Dissel, 2014). Other issues that play in this, is race and sexual preferences, issues that are not supposed to be determinants of employee qualification. This also welcomes unauthorized use of private information by employees. According to Mackenzie & Wallace (2011), employers should seek written consent from the candidate and access private information with their authority. There is also need to keep a detailed record of the information they seek during the recruitment process (Hay, et al., 2006). However, social media remains to be a risky affair in the workplace especially when it comes to gender, age and race discrimination.
Social Media and Recruitment
When times to recruitment of employees, social media use is also reported to have negative professional reputation. This is because it affects the productivity of employees, discipline, and conduct at work. There are poor communication and distortion of messages and harassment reported by the management and employees. In many cases, an employer will be held responsible for poor or abusive comments of stakeholders or fellow employees at workplace. This is because social media sites have entirely damaged reputation of fellow employees when colleagues post comments about their employers or them (Eunson, 2012). In Australia, when an employee uses social media outside office and during office hours or on the company's computer, it still has negative impact on the grounds of sexual, racial and position harassment and bullying.
Australian courts have, in some cases held employers liable for the offenses done by their employees on social media, even when it was done outside working hours. This is especially evident when the conduct is related to employment and fellow colleagues or other rival companies in the industry (Wood, 2010). It thus becomes important for employers to come up with a social media policy which will set out expectations, obligations, boundaries and conditions for the use of social media platforms. It is important for employees to be warned about breach of workplace policy on the use of social media sites, especially on areas touching fellow employees or the company (Spry & Floyd, 2013).
According to Nohria (2009), it was found the 98.9% of employees in a survey conducted in the country would visit social media sites at the office. This was very huge since employees are supposed to use office hours to perform tasks assigned to them. However, social media sites would always be a means of distraction from work (Turner, et al., 2011). This was also caused by the beeps and social media alerts that are received on a real-time basis once the computer is connected to the site. Nohria (2009), also found that more that 60.8% of study participants reported that they would often check their social media site while at work. In addition, as employees continue to focus more energy on responding to social media updates, they will reduce their rate of productivity which leads to loss of money and time for the company. However, some employees have argued that part of the challenge that comes with the extraordinary use of social media sites in the workplace would be a means of communication during work. Some believe that social media can be used positively to balance work input and output (Erikson, 2009).
Social Media and Employee Termination
The Australian courts continue to file cases of unfair dismissal claims that are brought about by termination related to the use of social media platforms by employees. For example in Dover-Ray v Real Insurance Pty Ltd (2010), it was reported that the employee failed to prove that her termination was done in an unfair manner. That it was done due to negative comments the employee posted about her employer during employment, it is reported that the employee and refused to remove those comments on the social media when was requested to do so (Dissel, 2014). There have also been cases where employees are terminated from work due to excess use of social media sites during working hours. This calls for the need for employers to send up clear boundaries for employment hours and the use of social media sites. Some of these standards are also confirmed by Fair work in 2011 where an employee was reinstated after being terminated due to derogatory comments about his manager on Facebook page (Davis, et al., 2016). In this regard, fair work looked at the fact that the employer did not have social media policy at the workplace.
Channels to Curb Negative use of Social Media at Workplace
The first channel for curbing the excessive use of social media can be done during orientation of employees. This is the time when employees are introduced to the organization procedures and policies. In this regard, they will be introduced to the organization culture. Policies will also be there to regulate the use of social media during working hours. They should be able to explain to employees the penalty social media use can encourage if found (Mackenzie & Wallace, 2011). Managers need to also keep it clear for employees during the presentation of organization expectations, this is because employees will always seek to do well, however, will be required to know directions of what is expected of them. In addition, employees need to be introduced to the idea of equity at workplace and way that it can benefit them.
At this, employers need to always insist on equal balance and treatment during working hours. Here managers need to take time to explain to new employees on the importance of high work performance and end benefits. The employer thus needs to provide employees with venues that can help bring about concerns of job equity like mentorship, employee ideas, lines of communication to superiors and human resource contact (Dissel, 2014).
The other avenue to curb negative impacts of social media at workplace will be during recognition programs. These programs can be a major factor to prove to employees the results of the work input and adherence to work policy. Such programs will involve rewarding employees who consistently focus on attending to their duties instead of constantly updating their social media connections (Planalp & Fitness, 2011). Such recognition thus needs to be performance based and should be able to reinforce the idea of equity since employee input of resisting social media and concentrating more on work will provide the positive outcome of acknowledging what is expected of him or her. When efforts toward work are put to practice, social media use will be highly reduced since it will not fit in with the employee’s commitment toward the goal (Nohria, 2009). Recognition of employees can also be done during working group meetings, employee of the month reward programs and release of organizational newsletter.
Employers can also use visual aids put and various destinations in the workplace. They visual aids can be posted from time to time as a way of reminding employees to resist distraction of the use of social media during working hours. (Adler & Elmhorst, 2010) adds that use of images provides an easy way of understanding rule than written materials. In addition, visual images when accompanied by well-written words can be more effective. The visual aids can be in form of posters, charts, presentations, attractive slogans and sketches carrying messages against use of social media in the workplace.
In conclusion, the use of social media at the workplace in Australia has become one of the main management issues as executives try to find a way of killing the trend. Employers need to devote to employing guideline and policies in the area. They need to explain to employees the need to sign a consent form that reflects their understanding of the guidelines and policies. It is thus important to have a social media policy where new employees will sign to consent to the policy. This will enable companies to avoid legal litigations which can arise in the event that managers will want to connect to employees social media for profile check (Dissel, 2014). It is important for employers to be wary when considering social media use during signing of employee contracts.
By looking at social media and its negative impacts at the workplace in Australia, employers should have clear policies and train employees to be sure they understand the disadvantages of these sites at workplace. It is also important to note that social media cannot be all that bad, especially of employers can train employees to use it as a marketing and promotion tool. At this, employees need to be taught how to use the platforms to exchange information, policies and products or services (Mackenzie & Wallace, 2011). To do this well, employers need to collaborate with the work environment so that employees enjoy an enriching work environment and social media experience. They should thus be taught and warned on posting social media content and comments especially on areas that touch the employer, the organization, colleague and employer’s customers.
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