September 8th, 2016

Social Media: Dos and Don’ts for the Workplace

A quick scroll through your news feed here, a second on Instagram there… many of us find the lure of social media too much to resist, but when it comes to the workplace we could do with cutting back a little.

Over the past few years, there have been high-profile disciplinary cases involving employees, employers, and posts on social media, so we at Ajilon set out to discover just how many people know the risks and play by the rules.

Is social media costing you at work? via @ajilon

We asked 2,000 office workers across the US about their online habits while they’re on company time, and learned that certain bad habits might be costing businesses significantly.

From saying something you might regret to playing games when your boss’s back is turned, we’ve investigated all the social media misuses that could get you into trouble at work.

Lost Productivity

It’s so easy to take a short break from your workload and check what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter. Done habitually, though, it can cost the company an unexpected amount of money.

Our study showed that 11% of people spend over an hour at work every day on social media (outside of their lunch break). When you consider that the average hourly wage in the US is $25.69, wasting one hour each day on social media amounts to $128.45 per week and $6,422.50 over a 50-week year.

It all adds up

The biggest proportion of our respondents (31%) said they only check social media for between 5 and 15 minutes each day. Take this at an average of 10 minutes: it stills adds up to roughly 41.7 wasted hours in a year, costing approximately $1,071.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is employees aged 18–34 who are most likely to spend over an hour of their working day on social media: 13% are guilty of doing this routinely. For every 100 people in that age bracket, that 13% will waste the equivalent of $83,493 in company money per annum.

Apps play a roll

At any given time, a particular app or game will be having its moment in the spotlight, and employers will have to look out for workers having a sneaky game in the office. In addition to checking social media throughout the workday, 19% of people have played Pokémon GO at work – something which is already seeing employees around the US facing disciplinary action. We doubt even the most liberal of companies would be happy to know that employees are being paid to catch them all.

No business wants to see money disappear like this. If employees limit their social media time to lunch breaks, then this can ensure that no company resources are wasted on news feeds, snaps, and Insta-likes.

Upset Employees

When you work with the same people for a long time, the line between ‘co-worker’ and ‘friend’ can become quite blurred. This means that more and more of us are Facebook-friends with the people we work with, which can cause a whole new set of problems.

If you’re connected with colleagues on social media, you can’t take to your online accounts to voice complaints without risking someone from your workplace noticing.

This is especially important for the 51% of people who are connected with their boss on social media: any hint of work dissatisfaction in a status update can be seen by the person they report to every day.

24% of our respondents admitted to writing a negative post about work on social media, with 5% owning up to complaining about their boss. 5% have complained about a client or customer, which is extremely reckless given how easy it is to screenshot something online and send it to other colleagues.

Men tend to take bigger risks: while only 20% of women have complained about work online, 31% of men have done so. This may be why the number of men who say they have been in trouble at work for social media use is double that of women.

Almost half of people (49%) take the precaution of not connecting with their boss on any social media platforms, but only 16% feel this way about their colleagues. While being cautious about how much of your out-of-hours activities you share with your boss is wise, a comparatively small proportion think they need to limit what their colleagues see.

Since 6% of respondents overall say that they whine on social media about the people they work with, they are playing with fire if they are friends with co-workers online, and ought to think carefully about what they post before they get burned.

Unclear Guidelines

Does your employer have a social media policy? If so, are you familiar with what it says you can and can’t do?

Unless you answered ‘yes’ to both of these questions, there’s a problem that needs addressing.

As social media is such a prevalent part of our everyday lives, both in and out of the office, it is crucial that employers spell out exactly how employees can use social media during – and, oftentimes, outside of – their working hours. This will keep everyone on the same page, prevent confusion, and give employers some markers by which they can monitor staff behavior online.

26% of our respondents said that their employer does not have a social media policy, which will only create uncertainty around the issue. Employees have the right to raise this topic with HR and request that it be looked into, and everyone will feel the benefit if guidelines are put in place.

For employees, it is your responsibility to inquire about your company’s stance on social media usage. Ignorance will not be a great excuse when you find yourself in trouble for tweeting on company time.

19% of our respondents said they do not know if their employer has a social media policy, and 6% said that they are simply not familiar with it.

If you don’t know your employer’s approach to social media, make sure that you investigate it immediately to avoid landing in hot water.

Knowledge is power

Knowing what’s appropriate to say online and when you can speak out can be a minefield, but with due diligence and reference to your employer’s guidelines, you can tweet, post, share, like, comment, and snap without risking a meeting with your HR manager!

Need more advice about social media in the workplace? We’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts for employees – take a look here!

Let us know on Facebook and Twitter what your tips are for being responsible online.




You've got a very specific area of expertise. So do we. Our recruiters and staffing specialists work with only the best administrative, healthcare, human resources, and supply chain and logistics professionals in the country. That's all we do. Every single day.