I needed some help setting up bank-to-bank transfers. No biggie, but technical enough that I did the Boomer thing and actually walked into the branch in person. Think Throwback Thursday. The Millennial bank officer was helpful. Everything moved along nicely until he needed to go online to another bank’s site. “I can’t do that. We’re not allowed to access the Internet at work,” he said.
I“What? Why not?”
“So that we won’t spend time on social media,” he said.
This was a problem. With no Internet access beyond his own bank’s site, the officer would have to find a phone number and make a phone call to the other bank to get the information we needed.
Here’s the kicker. He couldn’t even do that, because he couldn’t go online to find the phone number. He could have looked up the phone number on his mobile phone, but his employer also prohibited smartphones at work.
I took out my phone, found the site and handed him my phone. “Technically, this is against the rules,” he said.
“I’ll cover you.”
Add one to my list of AGMs (Awkward Generational Moments). Generational because I’m guessing that Baby Boomers in management instituted the ban. Granted, there’s a lot of concern these days about mobile devices and relationships—including customer service relationships. But, ironically, this employer had reacted by taking away a tool the officer needed in order to serve customers. Awkward.
Actually, as this was playing out I wanted to tweet about it. (I would have, but the officer was using my phone.)
There was a time when we used to “go” online. Now we live there, even at work. 83% of Gen X and Millennials say their phones are literally within reach all day. Meanwhile, Twitter use among Boomers has grown by 79% since 2012. Long story short, most of us of every generation use social media while working.
Which brings us to your company’s social media policy.
If you’re like most employers, you have a social media policy that covers legal issues like privacy, employee rights and security. One area that tends to be neglected in these documents is customer service.
In face-to-face situations, it may be important that employees stay off social media. Or not. As a Boomer, I was recently irritated when a Millennial consultant tweeted during our face-to-face. But when he showed me the shout-out tweet mentioning my company, I recognized his behavior as an attempt to create a better customer experience. He was just doing his generational thing. Some training about customer service for the generations would have taught him to do it differently. (i.e. tweet after the face-to-face), but his intentions were good.
A Boomer manager told me about walking through her department in a financial services firm and seeing account reps on Facebook. “I used to tell them to turn it off. Period,” she said. “But when I started getting pushback, I took another look.” Sure enough, the employees who took work breaks on sites like Pinterest were no less productive than people who didn't. “I had to stop thinking about how it appears to me,” she said.
The bottom line is this: Base social media policy on specific employee roles and customer needs, not on how being online "looks." Tweet this No matter what our generation, we’re all figuring this out as we go.
President of Generational Edge, Amy Lynch has written and spoken about the generations for 15 years. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Amy has been quoted in national publications, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and NBC Evening News, among others.