The importance of social media websites is constantly increasing. Now they play a significant role in the daily life of every individual. Businesses are also involved in the social media, as these websites represent many opportunities for them, such as advertising, promotion, customer relations, receiving feedback, and etc. Due to the significant importance and time consuming of social networks, there appeared many issues related to them, e.g. the use of social media websites in the workplace, work productivity, and changes in the employer and employee relations. Nowadays employers face many issues with the use of such websites by their employees, either for business or for personal purposes. Employers have to establish limitations in order to prevent employees from spending much time for social media. But, at the same time, such actions may sometimes be considered to be the violation of the employees’ rights. Therefore the problem is getting more and more important and requires further research in order to answer numerous questions of both employers and employees.
Key words: social media websites, employment and social networking websites, employer and employee relations
Literature Review 2
Online Social Networking and Social Networks 2
Social Media Use by Employee and the Legislation 7
Social Networks and Employment Procedures 9
Coping with the Potential Risks Arising from using of Social Media Websites 14
Appendix A 22
Social Media Impact on Employees
Social media is becoming more and more important in everyday life of every individual. It provides the users with the possibility to communicate with their families and friends, to share thoughts and ideas, to receive interesting and useful information, and etc. At the same time, social networking sites entered into the life and operations of businesses. Companies use such websites with the purpose to advertise their products and services, improve customer servicing process, receive feedback from clients, study the demand, etc. In the recent years organizations started to face one more issue related to social media: the use of the above-mentioned sites by employees during the working hours and in their free time. This has become a significant problem as it provides impact upon either employees or the company in many ways and may cause both positive and negative effects. Therefore, the employers now face the problem of regulating and controlling this issue in order to enhance positive and reduce negative effects of social networking websites. However, while doing so, there arise many ethical issues with regards to employer-employee relations. The questions, to which the anticipated research is going to be devoted, are as follows:
Is it ethical for potential employers to factor in content from social media when hiring new employees?
Is it ethical for employers to hire or fire employees based upon social media?
Can employers request password to all social media accounts in order to be hired?
Online Social Networking and Social Networks
According to Ferreira & Du Plessis (2009), the social networking concept cannot be considered to be new. Interaction of humans promotes inherently the networks formation due to the social contact. Such collaboration occurred on a significantly smaller scale between associates, friends, and relatives in communities and households. The modern situation has substantially changed and now in is difficult to find a company that works without collaboration of group and thus uses technologies in its space of collaboration. Technology of social networking, for instance, makes possible for the members to arrange their profiles and communicate with other users, and also with other organizations/groups. Users create networks by means of adding friends (other users), posting private and public messages, taking part in the forums, and etc. (Ferreira & Du Plessis, 2009, p. 3).
Studies of social network can improve our knowledge management understanding. Knowledge, relational, and structural features all provide impact upon the knowledge transfer success. Sites of social networks are a significant structure kind surrounding knowledge acquisition by a person. In comparison with the intra-group ties, an ability of the individual to achieve heterogeneous communities has a significant influence on the useful knowledge receipt.
Most probably communication between business units improves sharing of knowledge that improves performance. It is exciting for scholars to investigate either negative or positive consequences that the advantage of knowledge of a less constrained network may cause (Burton, Wu & Prybutok, 2010, p. 130).
The effective technology and human capital combination is necessary to improve productivity. An accent on human capital (on what individuals know), can contribute to the productivity of the organization. Companies should optimize such human capital by networks and communities interaction facilitating by means, for instance, sites of social networking and customized to business OSN (on-line social networks) technology (Ferreira & Du Plessis, 2009, p. 4).
Authors also admit that OSN also represent some risks, such as:
OSN increases social activity and is connected with addictive behavior developing; in case of incorrect management this may lead to an employee productivity’s decline;
OSN poses security risks and leads to privacy issues like identity fraud;
OSN can lead to collection of secondary data, that means the data indirect derivation from the available sources;
OSN can lead to receiving spam from the social networking, that is the unsolicited messages propagation;
OSN may lead to a corporate espionage when companies can provide their proprietary information (e.g. intellectual property) to the people from outside that leads to the negative outcome;
OSN can expose users to malware e.g. viruses, spyware and worms to the ICT infrastructure of the organization;
OSN leads to storage consumption and bandwidth. Numerous members of social network share music, pictures, high-definition movies, videos, and etc. (Ferreira & Du Plessis, 2009, p. 5).
Numerous people that utilize the social Web do this during working hours for either work or non-work related purposes (Ferreira & Du Plessis, 2009, p. 6).
The risks of using social media have to receive serious attention from the employers’ side. They should think about creating and implementing corporate policies in this regard in order to manage such risks and prevent negative consequences from the issues arising from them.
Generally, social networking improves collaboration and sharing of knowledge between employees that may lead to the productivity’s growth through the CoPs creation. However, technology of OSN has to be in effective ways channeled to ensure best outcomes. The possible risks include storage consumption and bandwidth, probable legal liability, reduced productivity, malware exposure, personal information disclosure and the leaking corporate secrets risk. To improve the OSN potential in the company, it is better for the firm to develop special networks for social networking inside it. Organizations should also consider elaborating and implementing comprehensive and clear policies in this respect (Ferreira & Du Plessis, 2009, p. 13).
Nowadays many companies have their own developed tools for communication that are similar to popular on-line ones, but can be used only inside the company. For example, in order to communicate with the colleagues located in the foreign subsidiaries of the same company.
According to Aguenza & Mat Som (2012), social networking websites represent a way in that numerous persons form different groups come together. Such groups can be informal, formal, small, big, unintentional or intentional. With regards to online social networking, individuals commonly use the websites. SNS (social networking sites) has established significant changes in the ways of communication for either organizations or employees. New communication media like applications of e-mail, chat and forum have changed the whole chains of processes.
Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are reachable for all individuals globally. They were traditionally developed for individuals’ connection throughout the world, including families, friends, and employees. Facebook in 2012 had the number of active users of 845 million globally, where Europe possessed the largest quantity (223 million), then Asia (184 million). The users’ distributions by gender were 43% males and 57% females (Aguenza & Mat Som, 2012, p. 48).
In order to deal with the reduced productivity of employees, companies have to elaborate a measurable and statistical way to count every employee’s real production level, and after it compare such figures with each employee cost. Following this, employers should support workers in their assignments. In case employees are delivering on time results and working hard, then it does not matter whether they are using SNS during working hours. In general, social networking sites can increase the employee satisfaction and performance levels when utilized efficiently and wisely (Aguenza & Mat Som, 2012, p. 51).
Companies can use the services of IT specialists with the purpose to monitor the use of social networks by their employees. As such, they can put bans on some websites, check the time spent for the social networks by each employee, or eliminate the possibility to use websites at all, with an exception for corporate systems. However, all these measures can be ineffective as individuals still find time and possibility to use social networks and other websites that are interesting for them.
According to Smith & Harwood (2011), social media has provided people with a public space voice that they never had before. Such websites have permitted voices from all around the world to interact, changing bases of power and making popular movements easier. This fact is also appropriate in the workplace the same as at a social, political and societal level. For trade unions and employers social media causes some ethical and legal issues. In such a new social digital space the regulations continue developing, and the aspects related to the workplaces are gradually increasing (Smith & Harwood, 2011, p. 1).
The web’s evolution has some features that have to be taken into account while considering its influence upon the companies:
Reach. Websites of social media can be reached by a large quantity of individuals. Technologies offer a platform that makes possible to perform two-way communication;
Usability/Accessibility. Social media is accessible for each person that can operate a smart phone or computer. It is broadly accessible due to two major factors: cheap price and no requirement of specialized knowledge and skills;
Immediacy. At the time when traditional media is frequently influenced by a time lag of some days, or even months, before the message is delivered to the recipients, social media is delivered to individuals very fast;
Paradox of permanence. Sites of social media may be enhanced or adapted practically instantaneously by means of comments of the users, content submission or editing. The co-creation of meaning and content is a driver of digital social space. But content in social media when created is significantly complicated to be removed as a large digital copies number can be instantaneously transmitted (Smith & Harwood, 2011, p. 2). In the same way employees can share some secret information of the company or personal information about themselves and their colleagues that will be spread in a seconds and cannot be removed.
Social Media Use by Employee and the Legislation
The social media using increase by workers creates numerous challenges for employers. Organizations now face several questions in this regard: do employers need to restrict access of workforce to websites of social media during working hours? Are they allowed to dictate behavior of the employees on these websites during non-working time in case postings are related to work? What kind of employees’ actions should cause an employers’ action?
There are two principle kinds of using of social media by workers that have lead to the disciplinary action, such as comments, photos, or videos’ posting, which reveal some kind of misbehavior related to work and using social media with the purpose to express opinions to that companies in some way object.
E-mail is now an adopted tool of corporate communication, but there is a lag between the technology arrival and the corporate structures adaptation to respond to the developing technologies. Some significant issues of unintended abuse of email that were the probable dangers of broadly connected workers which were able to send digital information at one click to the numerous recipients (Smith & Harwood, 2011, p. 5).
As the issue is emerging it starts attracting the attention of the state authorities. Therefore, there are already some documents issued that regulate the relations of employers and employees when it comes to social media, and obviously their number will be constantly growing as the popularity of the social networks is developing.
Online interaction has caused many lost jobs, disciplinary action, and reduced boarder between private life and work. Consequently, numerous companies have adopted policies of social networking trying to protect their employees and themselves. Such policies have been very controversial; according to many professionals, they infringe on rights of the employees (Stollak, Spielbauer Vandenberg, Felhofer & Sutherland, 2014, p. 1).
Together with the overall social media use increase, organizations can suppose that usage of social media at the workplace increased as well. There is a statistics that 61% of workers in the U.S. accessed their accounts on Facebook approximately for 15 minutes a day during working time (Lee, 2012, p. 1).
Nowadays employees can make claims against their companies. Organizations should be aware of new laws and regulations that influence relations between employee and employer as a result of the social media use and have to create corresponding policies that relate to social media usage and social networking in the workplace.
Potential misconduct examples associated with the social networking use during the working hours include: confidential information and company trade secrets’ disclosure; employee privacy breach; Title VII issues and harassment; gripe sessions of employee; intellectual property misuse; obscenity and pornography; defamation; social media excessive use during working time; deceptive and unauthorized endorsements; organizing of unions; and other employment policies violations.
In the U.S., for example, state and federal statutes influence the social networking use and assist with determining the acceptable use parameters. They include: the Federal Trade Commission Act; the National Labor Relations Act; the Wiretap Act; the Stored Communications Act; and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (Lee, 2012, p. 2).
First of all, employers should research the available legislation related to the social networks before creating their own policies restricting their use. Otherwise, it may lead to some breach of employees’ rights and cause claims against the company.
Social Networks and Employment Procedures
Social networks importance for labor markets is significant and obvious. As such, according to a survey of Massachusetts town residents, over 50% of jobs were received due to the social contacts. Similar figures are available for different occupations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and skill levels. Calvo-Armengol & Jackson (2004) investigated the social networks’ role as a way of information regarding job opportunities obtaining and its influence upon the employment dynamics. Labor force participation varies across different groups like blacks and whites. Thus, there is a drop-out rate higher 2.5 to 3 times for blacks in comparison with the whites. Differences in rates of drop-out are wages inequality’s important part across races and that dropouts accounting increases the wage gap between blacks and whites (Calvo-Armengol & Jackson, 2004, p. 426).
The question is whether it is adequate to expect from companies not to make background checks of the job candidates. They restrict the possibility of selecting the inappropriate employee and most of the individuals agree to such check in case it is required in the process of job application. May future professionals and students expect future employers to ignore information they voluntarily put on the social networking websites while being assessed for prospective positions and significant responsibility inside the organizations? Many firms state that they just fulfill due diligence once assessing job applicants on the basis of available information, e.g. the one disclosed in their profiles on the social networking sites (Kennedy & Macko, n.d.). There is a problem that many people (especially youth) do not understand what content is appropriate for the social websites and what is not and put there everything they wish.
Major findings of Leavey (2013) are as follows: social media sites represent an increasing evidence body that can inform economic and social policy. This is important for public service delivery organizations, policy community, and the government; it represents a fast increasing opportunity to significantly enhance and overhaul the process by that government becomes aware of the impact of its policies and society; the methodology processes and tools necessary to create evidence from the sites of social media that is useful for policymaking and are not available currently; however, can be brought into life in the coming future; social media evidence gets helpful and much more important compared to the other sources of data (Leavey, 2013, p. 5).
There are numerous possibilities for organizations of public service delivery and policymakers to: Create a broader social indicators range that ensure more timely and granular insight than available methods of research; create a profound economic well-being understanding by means of indicators that offer more local and specific insight, compared to the broader indexes (e.g. GDP); allows more responsive delivery of public service, which is sensitive to the users’ requirements, especially locally; enable indicators of early warning about failure of public service delivery, especially in the fields of social care, health, transport, and law enforcement. Sites of social media may represent a critical opinion outside the organization’s silo, in case available systems of warning cannot; cost savings’ realization by decreasing the traditional research need; oemocratic deficit reduce by decreasing the gap between state and citizen; create highly effective campaigns of public information based on localized and accurate understanding of behaviors and views; create difficult to realize and powerful insights regarding the behavior of the individual, especially the understanding of problems with physical and mental health (Leavey, 2013, p. 6).
According to Dowerah Baruah (2012), the principle social media advantages are as follows:
Ideas sharing: sites of social networking allow individuals to share activities, ideas, interests and events within their networks of individuals;
Communication tool: such websites are often being used by learners and teachers as a tool of communication;
Reducing the gap in communication: social media decreases the distance between individuals;
Information source: sharing and generating content sites serve as information sources of for different topics;
Important tool of marketing: sites of social media are broadly used by numerous companies to promote their services and products in the society;
Tool of client interaction: social media is an ideal place for interaction of customers, providing feedback, and support;
Important communication tool in case of crisis: once the significant tools of public relations fail, the sites of social media may help to communicate with the society in relation to any crisis situation (Dowerah Baruah, 2012, p. 8);
Cost effective / low costs: using social networking sites is cheaper for both business and personal purposes as it is in most cases for free;
Quick: such websites are an efficient medium of time management for either business or academic goals;
Privacy intrusion: sites of social networks are everyday life’s part and for numerous people a leading way of communication with family and friends;
Familial ties breakdown: in case individuals become addicted to sites of social networking, there appears to be a family ties breakdown;
Workers’ productivity reduction: constant social media using may provide an impact on productivity of workers;
Partially impersonal. It is always better to deal with customers personally (Dowerah Baruah, 2012, p. 9).
Founded by Pierre Bellon in 1966 in Marseilles, France, now Sodexo is the leader in Life Quality services globally. The company has been operating during 50 years and have created unique expertise, having around 420,000 workers in 80 states worldwide (Sodexo, 2016).
Sodexo Company is the leading facilities management and integrated food services provider in the U.S., Mexico and Canada and the 21st global largest employer. Having workforce of 120,000 persons in the U.S. they arrange around 9.3 million meals daily.
Sodexo has elaborated a strong brand of employer with the help of creating its employment values and a true brand’s community. Career website of Sodexo is a large hub of recruiting. The culture of Sodexo begins on this site. Besides creating a solid site for career building, the company is also recruiting with the help of a social media career blog.
There is the career page of Sodexo on Facebook. All the sub-pages of Sodexo can be reached from their main Facebook career page, including Sodexo Inclusion and Diversity, Sodexo, Sodexo Sustainability, and Sodexo Foundation. The organization is closely involved in the environmental and equality issues and charity work.
The company has a rather active channel on YouTube . It is devoted to communication regarding what is happening for the Sodexo employees, having the idea of creativity. The videos are popular among the users.
The Community of Sodexo
The organization looks like a large family that means that individuals are proud to share the community and the assistance is quite often arranged by means of donations, life quality improvement, and charity work. The main idea is also to provide every worker with the possibility to be promoted and learn during their career paths in the company. The company has created an image of a “Good Company to Work for”.
The company has also a Twitter account called @SodexoCareers. It is a good possibility to drive traffic to the website and to share information. The Twitter account is an integral whole strategy part, reflecting the image of the brand.
The company has a LinkedIn company page with approximately 170,000 followers. This account has numerous features like the list of LinkedIn employees or a careers tab (Linkhumans.com, 2012).
Users of social media spend 60% of their free time navigating their mobile devices and not the computers’ desktop. Sodexo is aware of such trend and its strategy in social media is devoted to talent attracting and talent landing on its app for mobile devices (Wood, 2014).
Speaking about the results, the company has created and developed a large people community that is willing to work for this organization.
Sodexo states that over 45% of its job candidates have followed its social platforms during the process of searching job and career development. Also, annual costs for recruitment advertising have been decreased by USD 300,000. The Sodexo Careers website traffic has grown by 182% since the time of social presence launch.
A good strategy in social media begins long time before the technology, as in case the company is conducting the business in a right way this will be well-reflected either on social media websites or on any other channels of communications.
The social recruiting strategy success in the U.S. has encouraged the company to launch the similar ones in the other countries, for example, in France that is the origin country of Sodexo (Linkhumans.com, 2012).
Coping with the Potential Risks Arising from using of Social Media Websites
Numerous organizations using websites of social media try to integrate it successfully into their everyday operations. The issue is often found within the execution, creation, and enforcement of the policies related to the use of social media. Numerous firms do not create policies to deal with usage of social media or may consider their policy to be complicated to implement in view of the lack of training and employee engagement.
In view of the above-mentioned issues, it is obvious that numerous managers choose to avoid discussion stating that they do not need either social media or the relevant policies to deal with it. But as organizations start to realize the benefits of using social media, workforce risk consideration is necessary for employee goodwill loss avoidance, breaches of information, and damage of reputation.
According to KPMG’s information, many organizations have efficiently received real value through their workforce formally engagement with improved policies of social media (Isaacson & Peacey, 2012, p. 9).
There are two methods that are going to be used in the proposed research: quantitative and qualitative.
The first method will be a survey conducted among employees of the head office of one of the leading multinational companies. Important characteristics of numerous quantitative researches are certain instruments utilization e.g. surveys or tests to collect data. Quantitative methods are usually referred to as deductive, that means that inferences from statistical hypotheses tests lead to general inferences regarding population’s characteristics (Harwell, 2010, p. 149). The individuals will be offered questionnaires that will have to be filled-out. The questions will relate to their understanding and perception of using social media in the workplace and their free time, amounts of time spent for social media, the meaning of such websites for each of them, etc. Each question will be followed by several variants of answers from which employees will have to select only one. After it the questionnaires will be collected, the results counted and analyzed. The outcome is expected to show major trends of employees’ attitude and opinion regarding the social media use. The additional factors that will be taken into account during this research are age group, gender, position in the company, etc. The questionnaires will be anonymous.
The second method is qualitative. It will be conducted in the form of the in-depth interview with the employers (executives of several large companies that are involved into managing social media issues in the company). Qualitative method is now an important tool for the applied research due to the fact that it offers deep insights into the study populations’ local perspectives (MACK, WOODSONG, MACQUEEN, GUEST & NAMEY, 2005, p. vi). There will be a number of questions to be discussed with each participant, the interviewer will make notes during the discussion and then the answers will be carefully studied and analyzed. The questions will mostly relate to the ethical issues of employer-employee relations when it comes to social media, the possibility of personal pages checking before hiring employees, using social media as a basis for hiring people, and etc.
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