As an employer, one of the biggest concerns is whether your employees are making good use of the working day. Productivity is a major issue in this day and age with all the technology at our fingertips, what with Smartphones, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media, there are many distractions in the workplace that can effectively cost the business money.
Frustrating as it is, it has become commonplace for people to be more engrossed in responding to every beep and chirp their phone makes than interacting with those around them or taking their job seriously. As an employer, what can you do in these situations?
One business owner noticed that his employees wasted an incredible amount of time checking and responding to personal Whatsapp messages during work hours and he began to log the dip in productivity. The problem here is can he realistically prohibit the use of Internet devices in the workplace or check his employees’ phones to see their last connection on chats without infringing on their rights?
There has not been any legal precedence in these cases even though there are sentences regarding the use of company computers for personal activities but not when it comes to employees’ private mobile phones so it is difficult to find the legal angle and confirm one course of action over another with a definitive legal basis but some appropriate steps could include:
- In order to instil disciplinary action regarding the abuse of Social Media for personal use in the workplace, some type of prior communication must exist in which the employees are duly informed of the company’s position on the matter. This would mean sending out a written internal memo for example, that sets the necessary guidelines.
- The memo must also stipulate what disciplinary action can be taken if the rules are broken as long as said action falls in line with the collective agreement.
- Another way of enforcing this rule is to include it in the work contract that is signed by both employer and employee at the start of the business relationship
This isn’t the only Social Media issue that has been cause for concern over the past few years… There have been many cases in which employees have made derogatory and inappropriate comments about their bosses, colleagues and clients that project a negative image of the company. This in itself is cause for disciplinary action even if it is done outside work hours. Another reason why employers have felt the need to limit the use of the Internet during work hours and especially on personal devices is for company security in case sensitive information is leaked on the Web, compromising the company’s image and credibility.
More serious cases have been dealt with at court, for example in November 2011, the High Courts of Andalucía ruled against an employee who posted photos of the work place in Facebook in a derogatory manner, not only that, she also photographed the location and make of the company safe.
Social Media and Smartphones are here to stay and even though they have their uses in the business world, they are also counterproductive if abused so finding the right balance is essential.