Supporting employees with social media addiction

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Health Assured team

19 October 2018

It is not unusual for an employer to be confronted with the dilemma of what to do about an employee who has an addiction problem in their professional career.

In modern society, employers have been confronted with employees dealing with drug and alcohol addictions. However, one addiction that is growing at a rapid rate is social media and internet addiction.

What is social media addiction?

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.

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

What to look out for with social media addiction

As with any addiction, there are many warning signs you can look out for in your employees. For workers who have developed an unhealthy attachment to social media, the following effects may arise:

  • Using their phones to procrastinate.
  • Checking notifications throughout the day.
  • Constantly monitoring ‘likes’ and ‘shares’.
  • Only communicating to people via social media.
  • Constantly taking photos at work.

Mental health effects of social media

Despite the obvious effects social media addictions can have on the productivity of your workforce, it can also cause detrimental effects to your employee’s mental wellbeing.

Studies have shown the link between Facebook use and less moment- to-moment happiness and life satisfaction in individuals. Due to the digital nature of social media, the lack of face-to-face connections between individuals can cause users to feel lonely and isolated.

Social media policy

It is recommended that employers create an 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. You are within your rights as an employer to introduce rules about the use of such sites where it impacts on work, and can expect that your employee’s follow these rules where they have been made known to an employee.

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 help protect your organisation from 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 at the start of their employment and to display promotional posters throughout the workplace.

Did you know?

  • 3.1 Billion people are social media users worldwide.
  • The average daily time spent on social media is 116 minutes a day.
  • On average, people have 5.54 social media accounts.

Overall, technology can be a great tool to help us connect with people however, it can create situations that can make employees waste time and become less productive.

It’s important to ensure employees are aware that they shouldn’t neglect the importance of physical communication with others, and to avoid social media platforms from controlling their lives.

If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

0844 892 2493

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