This paper will serve as an exploration and analysis of the case study on Fantasyland, WY. It will offer both a theoretical and an applied perspective on the scenario described, providing insight based on existing literature with regard to the manner in which social technology influences people in the workplace. It will explain the pros and cons of developing a social technology policy for an organization, and it will identify the issues present within the existing training program. Finally, a course of action to supplement the existing training to provide a more comprehensive training program will be developed, presented in the form of an actionable list, and an explanation of the manner in which the municipality can assess and evaluate the efficacy of both the training and the social technology policy will be presented.
Keywords: social technology, policy, pros, cons, theoretical, applied, issues, supplemental training, training, actionable list
Over the course of the past several decades, increased transparency within governmental entities has been seen before (Relly & Sabharwal, 2009). This is due in large part to the ease of information dissemination combined with the increasing interactions between the governmental and the business world, on both a national and transnational scale (Harder & Jordan, 2013; Relly & Sabharwal, 2009). The provision of such increased transparency holds governmental entities to a higher level of accountability, among other things, but the use of social technologies in order to do so has worked to create issues for some areas (Halachmi & Greiling, 2014). As Fantasyland, WY has recently implemented a social technology policy in effort to provide additional transparency to its citizens, while working at the same time to improve communication between its citizens and its governmental employees. In order to accomplish this task, a mobile app was designed and implemented that would enable running text messages to occur between individuals and groups of employees and residents. The amalgamation of the two groups using the text message app, a form of social technology, has worked to increase the level of communication present between employees of the city and its residents, as desired, but it has reduced the overall formality and the levels of professionalism present on the part of employees, creating a situation that the city would like addressed.
Social Technology in the Workplace
In today’s society, when the term social technology is used, it is used as a means of referring to social networking sites and other technologies that enable individuals to interact within a social setting via an online context (Derksen, Vikkelso, & Beaulieu, 2012). Social technologies allow for the incorporation between the individual, the sense of self, and the understanding of the world in a sociomaterial fashion (Schraube, 2013). This works to create an alternate perception in which social technologies act as an instrument of control, while at the same time treating all aspects of life, both human and material, as objects, distancing from the humanity and emotional ties, while at the same time creating a false sense of familiarity, fostered by the shared technology usage (Derksen, Vikkelso, & Beaulieu, 2012). As the awareness of the interactions between the individual and social technologies have grown, an increased understanding of how people believe that they are shaping their world through the active participation in online interactions and the differences between the real world itself has likewise grown, showing the need to address the utilization of technology and the complexities of interactions between the two (Schraube, 2009). In spite of the difficulties that social technologies can cause, the appropriate technology acceptance model and polices for social media usage can, when adhered to, provide a targeted framework that benefits all parties without experiencing many of the downsides faced as a result of the same (Axsen, Orlebar, & Skippon, 2013; Rauniar, Rawski, Yang, & Johnson, 2014)
A Social Technology Policy for the Workplace
When deciding whether or not to adopt a social technology policy for the workplace, however, it becomes necessary to determine whether the pros of the adoption of the same outweigh the cons associated therewith. Social technologies create “massive electronic databases of sensitive personal information…(that) can easily be created, searched, cross tabulated, and transmitted around the world at the speed of light” (Allen & Roberts, 2011). While events have placed an emphasis on the need to secure one’s network, particularly a network with databases containing sensitive information, the continued breaches being reported in the news, and others not reported via public media, serve to indicate that such challenges are not being met (Chang, Ho, & Chang, 2014). This leads to the question of should social technologies even be used, if the organization is unable to secure the data collected? If the organization cannot conclusively state that it will be able to secure the network, then this con can never outweigh any pros that may come from the implementation of such technologies. Other cons include those currently being faced in Fantasyland, WY, wherein there is a lack of professionalism, an increased familiarity, and a breakdown in the provision of roles and responsibilities. This is not to say that there are not certain positives associated with the use of social technologies, as the technologies can foster a sense of community, they can provide open communication and interaction, and they can allow employees to know the true nature of the feelings and beliefs of the constituents that they are tasked with representing.
Issues with the Current Training Program
In order to gain the benefits, without the negatives currently being experienced by Fantasyland, WY, it is necessary to address the issues present within the current training program. While the training program teaches the employees how to use the tool from a technical standpoint, it does not provide the skills necessary to operate the tool from a professional standpoint. As a result, all of the communications that occur through the use of the technology breaks down from a professional relationship to an interpersonal one, decreasing the reputation of the governmental agency and creating a situation in which familiarity can cause issues for the city. In order to address these concerns, the following actionable list has been created as a means by which it will be possible to work to address these concerns and still allow the city to continue to use the mobile app as a means of connecting with its residents.
1. As the social technology is being used within a workplace setting, the training program must be revamped to include appropriate professional etiquette (Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013).
2. The social media policy and training, following their revitalization, must be subsequently read by all employees and all employees must be retrained (Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013).
3. To maintain transparency, the employees must notify those using the app of the change in policies, allowing for a smooth transition back to the more professional relationship (Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013).
Actionable List Explanation and Conclusion
All government entities, according to the extant body of research, go through the same stage that Fantasyland, WY is currently experiencing (Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013). The use of such technologies can be saved, however, as long as the policies and training are updated to address the identified issues (Mergel & Bretschneider, 2013). Following the updating of the policies and procedures and the retraining of all employees, to ensure that there is no confusion or difficulty with the other individuals utilizing the system, the entity must communicate to the users of the technology the manner in which the interactions will change (Mergel & Bretcshneider, 2013). As long as all of the aforementioned steps are followed, complete with the appropriate change management and strong leadership to guide employees through the change, Fantasyland, WY will be able to not only maintain their adoption and usage of the mobile app, but will be able to successfully wield the mobile app as a tool for the increased success of all parties involved.
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