It’s probably safe to assume that most of your employees have some kind of social media presence. As a business owner, this can be both exciting and terrifying. Everyone hopes to hit the social boon and “go viral,” racking up tens of thousands of new followers on the daily. But what about all of the risks and threats that also come along with social media? With an estimated 4.68 billion mobile phone users by 2019 and new digital scandals hitting our tiny screens every day, it’s important to establish ground rules with a social media policy for your workplace. These tips will provide you with a few key points to keep in mind as you determine what works best for your company.
1. Get HR and Legal on board.
When putting together a social media policy, make sure you’re not going it alone. It’s always a good idea to loop in your HR and Legal teams! It’s their job to provide you valuable insights to stay within the limits of the law. For example, while it could make complete sense to you to simply “ban Facebook”, your legal team may be able to present a different point of view. By knowing the outcomes of other court cases and the nuances of these laws, your HR and legal teams are an asset to any planning session!
2. Don’t just copy and paste.
Consider the industry you work in and tailor your social media policy accordingly. Some industries, particularly media-related, clearly benefit from a robust social media presence of its employees. On the other hand, industries involved with sensitive data would be expected to have more restrictive usage. The important reminder here is that what works for one business will not necessarily work for another. Therefore, don’t just copy and paste! Instead, really tailor the policy to your business and make sure it makes sense before implementing.
3. Set boundaries, but don’t be unreasonable.
Like any policy, you want to control behaviors without being overbearing. Allowing moderate social media usage during work breaks is a fair compromise that provides meaningful distraction and maintains productivity. Also remember that employees have the right to conduct protected concerted activities on their social media accounts. Some employers have tried to restrict what their employees say about the company on their social profiles. Be aware that your workers may choose to engage in a “protected concerted activity” such as organizing, complaining, or protesting about their workplace on social media, and that these actions are, in fact, protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
4. “Employee opinions are their own.”
Many companies have started encouraging their employees to include disclaimers in their profiles that their opinions are their own. This type of social media policy allows for employee individualism, but also distances your company from the opinions of its employees. However, employers should remember that they cannot force their employees to use these disclaimers if they hinder–or “chill”, as one court stated–an employee’s NLRA rights. Though employees do not have a right to speak on behalf of their employers without authorization, these disclaimer requirements may be viewed as overstepping to the point of infringing on employee rights.
5. Monitor your company’s social media presence.
In today’s world, social media has a real impact on business. If you’re not already, get in the habit of monitoring your company’s online presence. Even if you don’t have a designated social media guru on your team, this is fairly easy to do and quick to set up. Simply set Google news alerts to be sent to your email and track your company’s hashtag presence on your social platforms. You can also set up alerts to be notified any time your company is mentioned in comments or posts. That way, you’ll know when your company is mentioned in these channels and will be able to respond appropriately and timely.
Want to learn more about social media in the workplace? Check out our On-Demand Webinar, HR Insights: Social Media in the Workplace! Our licensed HR expert Angela Kennedy will take you through case studies to see actual court rulings, and give you even more tips for crafting your social media policy!
What do you think?
Social media is an active part of today’s society and has the power to impact employee morale and your bottom line. Because of this, having a well-crafted social media policy in place is absolutely critical. What do you think? Comment below to share your own experiences handling social media in the workplace. Want more tips to keep your business up-to-date and compliant? All month we’ll be going through a Mid-Year Tune Up, so stay tuned for even more articles and insights on our social media channels throughout the month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make sure you never miss a beat!