I am a strong proponent of open access to social media. I feel the decision to block staff access to e.g. LinkedIn or YouTube is often ill-advised, and it’s not beneficial to organisations in the long run.
Many times I’ve heard the following reasons for restricting social media usage at work: “We don’t want our staff to be distracted.” And: “They shouldn’t waste their time on social media.” Other reasons may include perceived cyber risks or the cost of excess data usage.
Sending out the wrong message
Any organisation that blocks social media sites may send out one or more of the following messages:
- We don’t really understand what social media is all about
- We don’t trust our staff
- Even though consumers are using social media for health purposes, we’re not interested
Admittedly, this is probably unintentional. In most cases decision makers are probably unfamiliar with social media and may see it as a threat.
Why staff should have access
Here are five reasons why health care staff should have access to LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs etc…
- Social networks are powerful learning tools for staff
- Social media are increasingly used as health promotion tools (e.g. embedded YouTube videos)
- Shared knowledge accessible via social media will assist staff in finding answers and making better decisions
- Interactions with peers and thought leaders increases work satisfaction (and will contribute to staff retention)
- Participating in social media and other new technologies will raise the (inter)national profile of an organisation
The benefits outweigh the risks
The benefits clearly outweigh the risks, such as increased data usage. When it comes to cyber security, I believe there are alternatives that are more effective than blocking social media access, such as upgrading outdated operating systems, updating antivirus software, improving backup procedures, clever password management and online safety training for staff.
And finally, a simple social media staff policy goes a long way.