Want to know how to start monitoring your employees’ social media?
If you’re looking to increase team productivity by curbing excessive social media activity at the workplace, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how you can implement employee social media monitoring processes within your organization. We’ll also reveal a reliable method to help you monitor employee social media usage.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- How Does Social Media Impact Productivity?
- Dos and Don’ts of Employee Social Media Monitoring
- The Best Way To Monitor Employee Social Media Usage
- Benefits of Employee Social Media Monitoring
- Social Media Monitoring and the Law
Let’s get started.
How Does Social Media Impact Productivity?
Letting employees browse through personal social media accounts during work hours will definitely impact your business productivity and bottom line.
However, this doesn’t apply to employees whose work involves using social media — like, social media managers.
Here are five ways that social media sites negatively impact your business:
1. Wasted Time
If your employees are constantly tweeting at work and getting lost in rabbit holes like Facebook, your organization is losing money.
When your employees aren’t busy with work-related tasks, this idle time creeps in and nibbles away at your resources.
Low time use impacts your business and distracts your employees from what they’re paid to do.
After all, you’re paying staff to work, not to spend time browsing Twitter and other social media.
2. Lowered Productivity
Tasks that should take an hour under normal circumstances can get stretched to three hours when employees are distracted by social media.
This results in a staggering 13% total productivity loss on personal social media usage alone.
These distractions and disturbances also reduce an employee’s ability to regain focus once they get back to the task at hand.
3. Decreased Profitability
The less productive your employees are, the lower your profits will be.
Think about it.
The longer it takes a team to complete routine tasks, the longer it’s going to take to meet targets and deadlines. This can make it hard to build trust with your clients. Additionally, your business won’t be able to secure lucrative projects as a result.
4. Ineffective Scheduling
Most companies usually plan their workload according to employee work-time estimates.
However, with so much time being exhausted by social media, your forecasts and schedules seldom go according to plan.
5. “Guesstimating” Hours Worked
How do you pay your workers accurately when you’re unsure how much time they spend on work vs. social media?
This can lead to massive headaches when it comes to paying employees for the actual hours they’ve worked.
While you can track their browser history to gauge what they’ve been doing, this method is seriously flawed.
You won’t have accurate figures for the hours spent on social media and non-work-related internet usage.
The Dos and Don’ts of Employee Social Media Monitoring
The term “social media monitoring” sounds negative, no matter how you look at it.
If you don’t execute the process correctly, you might damage your relationship with employees.
That’s why you must implement employee social media monitoring carefully. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you monitor the right way:
1. Do Foster a Sense of Accountability
Give your employees leeway to track and manage their productivity.
This empowers them and gives them a sense of responsibility for time management.
You should use monitoring tools to help employees manage their performance and productivity. So they’re ultimately accountable for their work.
2. Do Have a Written Social Media Policy
Having a robust social media policy will safeguard your company against legal issues.
Your social media policy clarifies personal social media activity rules and regulations during working hours.
Here’s what the policy should contain:
- The purpose of the company policy.
- Which platforms the policy will be enforced.
- What can and can’t be posted on the employee’s social media accounts.
- The consequences of non-compliance.
Remind employees that what they post on any personal social media account needs to follow these guidelines.
Even a single offensive social media post from a personal account can directly impact your company’s reputation – so you’ll need to be careful.
3. Do Be Transparent About What You’re Monitoring
When it comes to employer monitoring, respect is part and parcel of honest employee communication.
That’s why you should always tell your employees what you’re monitoring.
Transparency helps obtain employee buy-in, meaning they’ll be more open to the process if you’re honest with them.
For example, a study conducted by Gartner found that only 30% of employees were comfortable having their emails monitored.
But when the employer took the time to explain what was being monitored, more than 50% of staff agreed to the process.
How do you do this?
Share productivity reports with employees at the end of the month so they can see how much time they waste on social media.
You should also allow them to voice their opinions about the monitoring process.
4. Do Adopt a Flexible and Understanding Approach
We’re living through unprecedented times, and it’s challenging to label employees as either good or bad without context.
For example, a team member could be stressed due to an excessive workload and would be using social media at work as a means of escape.
That’s why it’s essential to talk to your employees about any issues they’re experiencing and to provide solutions.
5. Do Decrease Monitoring Where Possible
With several companies working in an upside-down environment due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s quite natural to want to monitor everything all the time.
However, you need to figure out where you can cut back on your social media monitoring program.
For example, if your employees are putting in a few extra hours every week, encourage social media activity as a reward for completing their tasks early.
This can help foster trust and respect between employer and employee.
1. Don’t Ban All ‘Non-Work’ Sites
Some organizations continue to employ a blanket ban on all non-work sites.
While employees won’t be able to access their favorite social media platform during work hours, your IT team would have to spend a lot of time unblocking URLs to allow access to productive websites.
Another common strategy used is to block every employee social media account entirely.
Social networking sites have become so ingrained in our lives that they have almost become a necessity to stay connected to friends and family — especially during the pandemic.
Depriving employees of social media completely could lead to low morale and stress.
2. Don’t Monitor Employees 24/7
Monitoring employees after work hours is a gross invasion of employee privacy and privacy law.
This practice is widespread with remote workers, as they use the same computer for work and personal use.
Not only is it similar to stalking, but a tracking software that continually runs in the background can expose employees’ personal information (and their entire private life).
This can harm the employer-employee relationship — lowering morale and employee engagement.
The Best Way to Monitor Employee Social Media Usage
With most employees working from home, businesses worldwide seek new ways to ensure their teams remain productive.
As an employer having a robust employee productivity monitoring tool, like Time Doctor, is critical to your organization’s success.
Time Doctor is a powerful productivity management tool that major companies, like Verizon and Ericsson, as well as small businesses, like Thrive Market, use to boost team performance.
It helps you track and analyze how employees spend their time in the workplace and also provides deep insights into your team’s productivity levels.
Here are some of Time Doctor’s user-friendly features:
1. Accurate Time Tracking
Need to track how much time is spent on a task, project, or client?
Time Doctor makes time tracking and productivity monitoring simple.
Managers can allocate tasks to their team, or employees can type in their own tasks in Time Doctor. Once done, just click on the ‘start” button, and Time Doctor starts tracking time as you work.
Whenever you’re done, click on the ‘stop’ button — it’s as easy as that!
You can also choose to track time automatically in the background with the silent tracker option’s help.
2. Productivity Ratings
Work-related websites your social media marketing manager uses won’t necessarily be the same for your HR (Human Resources) team, right?
Unlike most productivity software that categorizes social media sites as unproductive for all employees, Time Doctor takes a different approach.
Managers and admins can choose the sites that they classify as:
This way, the time spent on Facebook by your digital marketing team will be labeled as ‘productive.’
Additionally, Time Doctor allows you to generate productivity reports based on these four unique productivity ratings, giving you unparalleled insights into how your team spends their time.
3. Detailed Productivity Reports
Time Doctor lets you see how your team is performing in real-time.
Here are a few reports you can automatically generate with Time Doctor:
- Web & App Usage Report: Get accurate insights on how much time employees spend on every social media website and app.
- Activity Summary Report: Compare how different employees spend their work time by viewing the percentages of manual, idle, mobile, and unproductive time for each employee.
- Timeline Report: View how much time an employee spends on tasks during a day or week.
- Projects and Tasks: Determine the total time taken to complete all your projects.
- Hours Tracked Report: Indicates the amount of hours tracker per employee per day or, for any date range of your choice.
4. Idle Time Pop-up
Keep your team members focused and on track with the idle time pop-up feature.
When Time Doctor detects that no keyboard or mouse activity has occurred (within a certain period), a pop-up is triggered to appear on the user’s screen.
The pop-up prompts your employee to either:
- Stop the timer and go on a break.
- Restart the timer and continue working.
This feature is a great way to prevent your team from logging idle time and helps boost overall productivity and employee performance.
To help track the time spent on tasks within other software, Time Doctor integrates with many third-party applications.
The software offers a plethora of add-ons and integrations for:
- Project Management Tools: Office 365, Trello, Wrike, and more.
- Payments & Online Invoicing Software: TransferWise, PayPal, and more.
- Help Desk Software: Zendesk, Phabricator, etc.
- CRM Software: Zoho and Pipedrive.
The Benefits of Employee Social Media Monitoring
Here are some key benefits of monitoring employee activity on social media:
1. Inactivity Monitoring
It’s tricky to estimate an employee’s actual working hours when they spend a lot of time browsing social networking sites with their smartphones.
Most time-tracking platforms have inactivity trackers built into them. This means that employees whose computers remain idle (for a specified period) get paused.
Inactivity monitoring ensures that you don’t foot the bill for unproductive hours.
It helps distracted employees get back to the task at hand and reminds them to log back into work after a break.
2. Increased Morale
Removing access to social media at work can undoubtedly decrease morale.
However, when you use trustworthy employee monitoring software, you won’t have to restrict social media access all the time.
Instead, the tool can allow employees to use social media during break hours or when they’re ‘off the clock.’
3. Greater Transparency
By monitoring employees’ social media activity, you’ll know exactly how your employees spend their time.
This way, you can differentiate between your productive and unproductive team members with ease.
Having a robust monitoring tool will help ensure that employees stay productive during working hours.
Social Media Monitoring and the Law
No matter which monitoring strategy you implement, you need to obtain employee consent.
Monitoring employees social media without consent means you’re liable to face strict legal action and lawsuits.
Additionally, if your organization uses distributed teams, you’ll need to be aware of the legalities.
Some US state laws strictly prohibit employee monitoring without written consent.
And Federal laws such as FECAP (Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act) protects employees and prospective employees against being monitored without their explicit consent.
If you have staff in the European Union countries, you’ll be subjected to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and EU rules, which are more stringent than US laws.
There are also tons of regulations that pertain to handling personal information and the monitoring of specific types of electronic communication in the workplace.
As a rule of thumb, it’s smart to steer clear of monitoring software that runs in the background and appears invisible to employees.
Not only is it a severe breach of employee trust, but it’s also a criminal offense in some US states.
While monitoring employees’ social media is tricky, it’s necessary for your business — as it can save your organization from revenue losses and potential damage.
Instead of adopting a heavy-handed approach to monitoring, educate current employees on acceptable social media practices in the workplace.
Use the tips mentioned in this article to monitor employee social media and boost team productivity tactfully.
Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor—one of the world’s leading time tracking software for remote teams. He is also the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.