Handling Social Media In The Workplace
The rise of social media platforms has made a significant impact on employers across the board, regardless of size and industry. While most organizations are building employment brands and deploying marketing strategies through social media channels, there are a host of negative impacts and challenges as well. The usage of social media transcends from your employees' personal lives into the workplace. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that Human Resources professionals include and enforce specific social media policies and guidelines within employee handbooks. Whether your company has developed a social media policy or not, there are a few key factors to keep in mind in relation to employee usage and impact.
Prohibit Excessive Usage
As Human Resources Professionals, you are well versed with the multitude of factors that impact employee productivity. Within most organizations, one of the key initiatives in relation to the workforce is optimization, or leveraging the talents and skill sets of the employee population to the greatest extent possible. While there are tools, resources and professional development tactics being implemented to enable enhanced employee impact, attention must also be placed on preventing distractions.
Be proactive and include a clear reference to the limitations of social media usage during work hours. Although it is difficult to place restrictions on the use of personal devices, be sure to refer to the verbiage within your company's cell phone policy
to support the position that usage should be moderate. If applicable, state that company assets must not be used for any purposes other than work related tasks. Partner with the Information Technology department to identify websites that should be blocked and ensure that firewalls are put in place. Develop a system for monitoring misuse of internal technological assets and address all occurrences in accordance with the policy.
Define Confidential Information
Your social media policy should include a direct reference to the prohibition of posting confidential company information on social media platforms. However, in many cases employees are not aware of what information is considered confidential or proprietary, thus adding an additional layer of complexity. Provide clear examples of what should not be shared within the context of your organization, such as trade secrets or financial information.
Depending on the culture and workplace environment, consider additional aspects that should not be made public. Your policy should clearly state that personal social media accounts are not the appropriate forum to share information that could damage the image and viability of the organization. When crafting policies, it's important to demonstrate the fact that the restrictions are justified and essential to efficient operations and sustainability. Be sure to include a reference to the fact that if the policy is violated subsequent disciplinary action will be taken.
Monitor Social Media 'Mentions'
A policy is only as impactful as the manner in which it is enforced. Within larger organizations, the approach has been to delegate responsibility of monitoring all 'mentions' of the company on social media to one or two employees. Typically, the scope of these roles extends beyond monitoring employees to clients and end users as well. Despite company size, the reality is that public relations and brand image are critical to sustainability. Employer brand image should not only be considered within the context of recruitment due to its impact on customer patronage.
Regardless of company size, be sure that a process is put in place to regularly scan the internet and social media channels for references to the organization. A simple search of the company's name across the various platforms will provide recent posts and mentions. Although some due diligence is involved with this process, the residual impacts of identifying negative or disparaging references will be significant. Within the social media policy
, acknowledge the fact that the company’s image is of the utmost importance and for that reason, and as a component of the public relations strategy, its social media presence is closely monitored.
Request Policy Acknowledgement
Social media use is undoubtedly one of the most rapidly evolving and difficult to monitor impacts on both employee productivity and company brand image. As with all other policies, request that employees acknowledge that they have received the policy and will adhere to the guidelines. While this will add an additional layer of precaution that may prevent employees from violating the policy, it will also justify subsequent disciplinary action if applicable.
The dynamic nature of social media platforms necessitates policy revisions; ensure that you are remaining current with evolving trends and making updates to the policy when applicable. Of course, you will want to consider the true impact that social media has on your organization before making a large investment of time and resources. Announce updates to the social media policy and be diligent about ensuring that employees understand what changes have been made and why.