Technology has reshaped the way we play, communicate, plan

Technology has reshaped the way we play, communicate, plan our lives, and where we work. The Internet and social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikis, and blogs not only have changed the way we live but also how we work. These social media tools have also redefined what is acceptable behavior in a work environment and how HRM practices need to reflect this new type of activity. Some companies embrace social networking tools as part of employees' everyday activities, while others are not so sure employees need another reason to be distracted during the workday. In the following case, you will learn about Kate Slattery and what challenges she faces as a manager with regard to social networking activities.

In this exercise, please read the mini-case below and answer the questions that follow.

"Hi, Jack, got a minute?"

"Sure, Kate, what's up?"

Kate Slattery is a supervisor at a BestCo, a consumer electronics company, and she is having trouble with some of her young employees. Jack Richards is the company's HR manager, responsible for the 45 employees in the BestCo Midwest regional office. BestCo has a good reputation in the local labor market of hiring energetic, young talent and giving them the experience they need to take the next step in their professional careers. Most of Kate's direct reports are recent college grads, experiencing "work life" for the first time. So, it doesn't seem odd to them to check their Facebook page or Twitter account during the day at work—they have grown up in the social media era of communications and feel the need to check in on a frequent basis.

Kate supervises a group of eight employees, who are responsible for sales support. Recently, she received complaints from sales reps in the field that they can't get quotes, product specs, or application information from her group. She did some investigating and found employees on the Internet watching YouTube videos, checking Facebook pages, and tweeting about personal events. She is in a quandary. Employee access to the Internet could be blocked, but there are many times when access to competitors' websites and general product information needs to be available instantaneously to help the support staff do their jobs. Moreover, BestCo has invested time and money in developing a company website for both consumers and business customers, and her staff should be able to access the site during the workday. Kate has asked Jack for his take on how the company should view social media and the impact it should have on the day-to-day activities in the BestCo office.

1. How should Kate address sales reps' complaints?

Ignore complaints.

Ask Jack to call office-wide meeting.

Discuss complaints with her staff.

Send out stern memo to direct reports.

Get older employees up to speed on how to use Twitter.

2. Why are some companies unsure about social networking?

Fear it will reduce employee productivity.

Fear some employees will object.

Fear some employees will use it for job hunting.

Fear senior executives will clamp down on managers' authority.

Fear of the unknown.

3. As HR regional manager, what should Jack do about Kate's concerns?

Defend workers' lack of productivity.

Develop formal policy on social networking.

Tell Kate to use her judgment.

Tell older employees to stop complaining.

Ignore the situation.

4. Although comfortable with social media, Millennials may offend older colleagues by using Facebook during their workday. How should Kate handle this?

Ask a younger staff member to share work advantages of social media with colleagues.

Fill positions with younger people.

Require older workers to manage company Facebook page.

Tell offended employees to "get over it."

Ban the use of social networking tools.

5. Social networking has become the electronic substitute for _____.

Preparing status reports

Attending company functions

Conducting strategy sessions

Scheduling weekly meetings

Socializing with co-workers