Social media in the workplace: benefits and risks

Social media. It’s the buzzword of the decade, and it doesn’t seem to be losing momentum. Of adults who use the internet, over 70% use Facebook and many use multiple forms of social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and Snapchat. With so many platforms and so many users, it’s no wonder that reports 28% of time spent online is social networking.


What does widespread usage of social networking mean for the workplace? It means that there is a high probability that your employees or colleagues use social media everyday. And there is good reason why. Social media gives us a fast track way to connect to pop culture, current events, businesses, and the everyday occurrences of our friends’ and coworkers’ lives. We share stories and photos. We send and accept invitations to events. We might start a war of puns or prolong running jokes, and most definitely everyone does some snooping. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it’s hard to imagine a world without social media.

What about the potential risks and negative consequences of using social media? One of the most enjoyable aspects of sharing information and photos online is how quick and easy it is to do. But this is a double-edged sword. If private information or suggestive photos are shared, or if someone bullies and disrespects a person online, then social media is being used irresponsibly. Irresponsible social media use can led to lawsuits and can have a direct impact on a person’s career, personal life, family, and even his or her mental health.


Recognising the importance and relevance of these issues to companies everywhere, iHR Australia has developed a digital training program, Responsible Use of Social Media, that addresses this topic. Soon, we will release this program to help managers, company owners, and employees understand what risky social media use is and what the consequences can be. The program’s key objectives will be understanding social media and how it is used in the workplace; understanding and responding to high-risk social media behaviour; and management of social media issues.