Employees Are Connecting On Facebook: Here’s Why They Shouldn’t

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The desire to connect with colleagues on a personal level is human nature. But when the medium through which they connect is external and unstructured, it can introduce some serious issues for both employees and the company as a whole. 

Social connection, no matter the medium, is a positive thing for company culture — it’s not healthy (or fun) for employees to get stuck in a work-only mindset. Connection gives employees an opportunity to break down informal work barriers, develop personal friendships, and coordinate social outings. 

Connection also allows employees to collaborate and work better as a team. When you have an emotional connection with your colleagues, you are more likely to become invested in team projects and go the extra mile. Connecting with and enjoying the company of the people you work and interact with for the majority of the week supports high levels of employee engagement and, ultimately, high retention. And in that way, this healthy social connection helps support the bottom line.

Coworkers prefer to connect on Facebook 

When they aren’t connecting in the office, 87% of employees are connecting on Facebook. With more than 1.5 billion daily active users, it’s no surprise that employees flock to the platform to connect with colleagues. Facebook is easy and familiar, and many employees have used it for years. When employees want to connect personally with someone they know professionally, Facebook is the natural first step. 

But Facebook isn’t the best place for making personal connections with coworkers, mainly because of the amount of personal content employees post. They express their political opinions and might post jokes and language that could easily offend in a professional setting. When you introduce professional contacts to a personal platform, the lines of what’s appropriate are blurred. People might begin to censor themselves, which isn’t always healthy. Or employees might feel uncomfortable with a coworker based on something they’ve seen online.

Employee connection on Facebook can also pose some security issues for enterprises. Whether colleagues are using unauthorized office pages or personal profiles, the line between confidential information and personal conversations between coworkers can easily begin to blur. Enterprises have to be very careful about opening the door and letting Facebook into their business. Ask yourself: Do you trust Facebook with your corporate data? 

Give your employees another space for connection

It’s important to encourage personal relationships in the workplace. But it’s even more critical to encourage connection in a secure, controlled way — away from Facebook and other personal social media sites. 

Forward-thinking organizations recognize this and are turning to internal communication platforms to solve the issues Facebook creates. An internal social channel or other similar functionality in today’s modern intranet platforms support intuitive, interpersonal connections among coworkers. These platforms are designed to facilitate conversation and connection among employees while remaining highly secure and contained within the structure and safety of the business. 

Bringing these social connections inside the business allows the enterprise to maintain a healthy separation between personal social networks and business social interactions. Meanwhile, features on the platform like photo sharing, status updates and blogs mimic those found on personal social media sites (but missing from traditional enterprise communication systems) and encourage employees to communicate and express themselves in a more personal way. 

Employees have the right to connect on social platforms other than those provided by the company, and many will continue to do so even if you offer these capabilities inside your digital workplace. But by providing a space for employees to connect within the workplace that offers similar features to Facebook, employers can set limitations, keep information secure and structure interactions around all things relevant to the business, designed to drive employee engagement and culture. 

Connection is key 

Social connection is in our nature and as such should be nurtured in the workplace. And a culture that supports collaboration and connection among employees promotes a happier, productive workforce. Employees need a safe, secure platform to foster connections, and when they have it, collaboration, teamwork and high engagement follow close behind. 

Mike Hicks is CMO at Igloo Software.