How can HR help an employee with social media addiction?

How can HR help an employee with social media addiction?

Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay.

But how is it affecting employees, and the workforce as a whole?

Speaking to HR Grapevine, David Price, Managing Director of Health Assured, outlined how HR could combat social media addiction amongst its employee populous.

He says it is almost expected that an employer may be confronted by the dilemma of what to do about an employee who has an addiction problem in their professional career.

The stats support this claim – there are over two billion active social media users worldwide (according to We Are Social’s Digital In 2016 report), internet users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts (according to Global Web Index), and Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp handle 60 billion messages a day (according to Facebook).

“A social media addiction is an unhealthy relationship with social media or the internet, in which they use it more than they would like to use it and they continue to use despite negative consequences,” he defines.

“The greatest damage to an employee is their self-esteem,” he continues. “Addiction is defined as not having control over what they’re doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to them.

Employees may want to keep their addiction a secret from their colleagues too.

For example, a poll commission by Reed in Partnership and conducted by YouGov earlier this year found that 28% of UK working adults who gamble want to keep the extent of their habit hidden from co-workers.

Price suggests creating an internet and social media policy, as well as an employee assistance programme that offers staff confidential support including counselling, information, guidance and referrals on any work, personal or family issues.

“When offered this service,” he says, “employees feel valued and cared for, and feel they have an outlet to discuss problems that are personal to them.”

“[Regarding internet and social media policy] a certain amount of control over employees’ use of social networking sites is possible, but this must all be dealt with in an employee’s contract of employment, and any other documentation that governs an employee’s employment.

“Your policy can restrict employees from using social networking sites during working hours. Research suggests that countless hours of work are lost due to staff surfing the web so you can put in place measures to secure against this.

“What is important with such a policy, or any policy, is to make sure that your employees are aware of it. Don’t hide it away in a folder where employees don’t have reasonable opportunity to see it. The best way to satisfy yourself that the employee knows about the policy is to hand out a copy of it during their induction with you at the start of employment.”

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