'We don't block access any more to social media. We want to say to our employees that we trust them - and we do trust them - to be responsible.'
Victoria (16 Sept. 2010) - The B.C. government is opening the door for public employees to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter on the job.
It is creating new guidelines for the use of such media and is encouraging their use in everything from forest fire updates to citizen input on policy decisions.
Allan Seckel, head of the B.C. public service, says the province sees social media as a new set of tools to be incorporated into the working day of an employee, rather than banned or discouraged.
"These tools are incredibly important internally and externally in terms of how you communicate," Seckel told a conference titled Communicating to the Public and Employees in the Age of Social Media.
Seckel says social media are quickly becoming a big part of public employees' daily work and while it can be unnerving for organizations to let employees use social media in the workplace, the government has decided not to impose restrictions merely to avoid perceived risk, he adds.
"We absolutely have to be aware of the risks before we act and we need to know what we are getting into, but we can't be so risk-averse that we are paralyzed. We have every confidence our employees can be trusted," he said.
"We don't block access any more to social media. We want to say to our employees that we trust them - and we do trust them - to be responsible."
Seckel says social media can be important business tools as well. He cited cases in which government employees use Facebook or Twitter to assist them in their work during the summer forest fire season.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE