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The Good and Bad of Social Media

As I reflect on a recent disciplinary case that I’ve been involved with, it led me to consider the now widespread use of social media by both employers and employees.


Whilst there are no denying it’s benefits, it has undoubtedly raised new legal issues in the workplace, especially regarding discipline and the legal liability of an employer for the acts of its employees.


Social media allows businesses to engage with current and prospective clients directly; it gives organisations a platform to build their brand and distribute information with ease and given that it’s estimated that 74% of adults use social media, you can understand why it’s so attractive.


However, remarkably, a significant number of companies don’t have a social media policy, and many only consider developing one in response to a major PR disaster!


You don’t have to look far to find stories of social media scandals: an employee tweets something offensive from an official company account, an employee shares confidential company information online, or makes a derogatory comment about their employer on their Facebook page – I could go on!


A well-crafted social media policy can help your business proactively prevent these types of issues, and should such an issue arise, a sound policy will help you effectively address and defuse the problem before it does too much damage.


So what makes a good social media policy?


Sites


First of all, your policy should specify what sites your employees are allowed to use at work.


Many companies recognise that social media can be a useful tool for employees, so completely restricting access to all social media sites isn’t necessarily the best choice.


You may wish to restrict certain social media sites, or you may choose only to allow employees in particular roles or departments to access social media.


Whatever you choose, your policy should clearly state who can use what social media sites and how they can gain access to those sites – be clear about the reasons you are allowing those employees to use social media, to avoid complaints from other departments.


Use of official accounts


Establish who can speak for your company on social media; which employees are authorised to create, maintain, and delete official company accounts? Are there guidelines and standards for posted content? Do you allow employees to access company social media accounts from their personal devices?


Conduct & Consequences


Your social media policy should tie in with other company policies such as acceptable use and code of conduct. However, social media brings up some issues that may not be addressed in existing policies. The policy should address both official use and personal use of social media.


Personal social media use can be more complex. For the most part, your employees can post what they want when they are not on company time or using company technology.


However, you should encourage employees to be responsible, respectful, and professional on social media.


Outline clearly what’s not permitted (either inside or outside working hours) and the potential consequences; such as

· employment related matters or

· material that could identify an individual who is a customer or work colleague

A post which you think is only visible to your followers will not necessarily remain that way thanks to actions like screenshots; bear in mind good news travels fast, but unfortunately so does bad news.


How Can I Be Sure What I Post Is Okay?


To be on the safe side, if you have the slightest doubt that what you’re about to post is acceptable then don’t do it?


Take a proactive approach to your social media policy; try to keep it simple and easy to understand. Remember to regularly review and update.


If you would like to discuss these or any other people issues, please get in touch on 07801 265746 or email muriel@mccullinshr.com





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