In 2024 social media continues to be a powerhouse, where new platforms continue to rise and original platforms stay steady on usage. Social media has become more than a place to update friends and family, but a tool for marketing and many: a job. The issue that stands with social media is the struggle to balance mental well-being during the age of digitalization.

In the workplace, social media is used in numerous forms. From college students using LinkedIn to promote themselves and find hiring positions to marketing managers using social media to market their company. Social media is more than a series of apps to post about your weekend meals and your polished family photos - it’s a place to expand your network and to promote your business.

Social media can even be used as communication points for business to business, business to consumer, and consumer to consumer. Social media can make or break a company based on how they interact with customers online, how customers review and interact with the business, and other ways. 10 years ago email marketing was a convenient way, and still is, yet the advantage of social media needs to be adequately acknowledged in the workplace to avoid digital burnout.

Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be highly beneficial for employees. Collaboration on social media is an engaging way to share information with other employees. A group chat on Instagram where one can send future ideas for projects or motivation, using LinkedIn to share their thoughts on how they grew from a project and sharing it for coworkers and your network. Also through having a company page where you’re posting frequently, employees can feel involved and engaged by commenting or sharing their own posts. By posting on social media, employees show their pride in their business and position, and draws other social media users in to seeing your business on social media.

On the flip side, social media can be the cause of pure burnout for an employee. It can be all consuming and easy to get caught-up in the scroll of social media, causing a lack of productivity, jealousy towards seeing people’s vacation photos while they’re sitting at their desk scrolling, and exhaustion. Social media can be draining on its own, so incorporating it into the workspace can cause burnout on an employee who feels they cannot take a break.

If somebody wants a social media cleanse, they don’t have the opportunity to if they are required to have a social media presence for their job position. Additionally, if somebody goes home and then decides to use social media as a form of relaxation - they are often left unrelaxed when their social media feed is covered with work-related posts. It can feel overwhelming and all-consuming.

Social media has been around for years, but employees have worsening mental health struggles as social media continues to grow. One large piece of this is the anxiety - there’s an anxious link of wanting to make sure you see every notification without getting distracted, but making sure every notification is seen so you don’t miss something important. On the other hand, social media in the workplace can cause depression and feelings of isolation. Social media itself connects us to others, but can lead to the feeling of loneliness. Now when you implement social media into the workfield, some can feel “FOMO” (fear of missing out) by sitting at their desk, scrolling, and seeing people on vacation or at a restaurant.

As an employer, there are numerous strategies you can implement to promote healthy social media habits in the workplace. One way is to begin implementing social media policies - by giving your employees a clear understanding of your expectations for their involvement or time on social media, they can feel firm in their use. If they are in a posting role, they are to understand the expectations. Response rates on social media for work hours and non-traditional work hours, if they are expected to answer outside of the regular work day, how long is an appropriate time to respond? Creating a social media policy can be as simple as explaining when and how social media will be used in their role and in the company. If you do not have employees who require being on social media out of work hours, you can encourage digital detox for non-work hours. Taking a break from 5-9am, and 5-9pm, they can be encouraged to take time off social media and the digital world to feel a break and breath of fresh air outside of the workplace. Another strategy could be employee training or meetings, where you cover how to engage on social media and when, and when it’s okay to take a step back. Encouraging your employees to feel comfortable talking about the digital burnout they can experience from social media will help them navigate it before crashing and burning.

Coca-Cola, one of the most well-known soda brands in the world, has a social media policy that helps employees with their mental wellbeing. Their social media policy offers an understanding of the company’s values, how social media promotes networking and growth, and allows for employees to engage with the brand without fear of anxiety. Adidas and Best Buy are two other brands that have used their social media policies to help avoid employee burnout while offering clear and comprehensible policies for their employees.

Creating a workplace that prioritizes employee mental health and well-being is one thing, but understanding why and continuing to foster a healthy workplace is a different thing. The World Health Organization even states that “without effective support, mental disorders and other mental health conditions can affect a person’s confidence and identity at work, capacity to work productively, absences, and the ease to with which to retain or gain work”. In a place where we recognize that mental health is a vital part of an employees well being, it’s vital to engage and encourage your employees to continue to foster their mental health. Fostering a culture that prioritizes employee mental health can create employees who avoid fatigue, burnout, and frustration with their workplace by feeling supported.

If you are feeling interested in learning more, the World Health Organization, American Psychological Association, and John Hopkins University are just a few of the places that have studies and evidence on how social media and prioritizing mental health can make significant differences in the workplace. Encourage a healthy work-place environment by acknowledging social media and it’s growing role in the workplace, and how employee’s mental health can be impacted by it.

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