SOCIAL MEDIA / AUG. 20, 2014
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Are You Happy for Your Employer to Monitor Your Social Media?

The role of social media in the workplace remains a prickly one.  Despite numerous studies showing that it is advantageous for productivity, there remain many companies that are reluctant to provide employees with access to it during work hours.

Some companies that do allow employees to use social media at work insist on being able to monitor what you get up to, with a new report from PwC and Oxford University’s Said Business School suggests this practice is only likely to grow.

They surveyed over 10,000 employees and over 500 HR staff to better understand the state of play in the market.  They found that social media monitoring is on the rise, although strangely many companies are billing this as because they want to better understand what motivates employees.

Equally interesting was the finding that many employees are quite happy for this to take place.  Around 1/3 of young people surveyed said they would be quite happy for their employer to do this, but only if it meant greater job security in return.

What price security?

Is that supposed job security really worth giving up all of your tweets and status updates?  I suppose many young people have become culturally disposed towards doing that by the free social networks that sell our data to advertisers in return for this service.  It has conditioned a generation to place no value on their social data.

We have already seen this kind of debate occur in recent years over the right of recruiters to trawl our social profiles prior to providing a job offer, with many even demanding this when the applicant had made their accounts private. 

I mean would we let our employer look through our personal belongings or our personal mail?  How about sitting in on the conversations we have around the dinner table or at the pub?  It seems unlikely doesn’t it?

Does social access equal job security?

Equally disturbing is the perception that giving employers access to our social data will somehow improve our job security.  It’s hard to fathom quite how this will occur.  If anything, there is surely a greater risk that they will find something they don’t approve of and send you on your way.

It all suggests a dangerously laissez-faire attitude towards privacy and data security amongst the millennial generation, despite the rise of services such as WhatsApp that provide a greater degree of security than Facebook Messenger et al.

The PwC report highlights the alarming concern young people have about their job prospects, and the apparent lengths they will go to ensure those prospects improve, especially given the link between social privacy and employability is quite so tenuous.  Maybe this is evidence, should any be needed, that a good deal of education is required to reinforce the point that our privacy and personal lives should not have to be relinquished in order to keep out job.

That, at least, is something that our digitally active millennial generation should have in their corner.

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