Workplace social media policies are employers’ first line of defense against lawsuits, leaking of trade secrets, and negative publicity from employee postings.
So critical are these that employers like yourself search for models of best practices. Here are 5 presented by HireRabbit. But since the law, employee values and social media itself keep changing, you have to monitor your own policies and keep them up-to-date.
For the current time, here are 4 tips:
Put policies in writing with easy to understand examples, specifying consequences. Make the tone friendly but that you mean business. Where there is ambiguity, such as how employees discuss current projects on company blogs, provide several brief examples. For instance, show the difference between using buzzwords for the new kind of technology you’re developing and revealing confidential details.
Make explicit that violations could result in suspension, termination, and litigation.
Highlight employees’ rights, as granted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This demonstrates that you are a law-abiding, ethical, employee-oriented employer. The Act protects employees who post material about wage and working conditions. Those include online criticisms of management and opinions concerning labor issues.
You want to be in compliance with both the spirit and the letter of that Act.
Frame the need for civility as enhancing the brand – and protecting jobs. For both company and employees’ own social media, show the business implications of disrespectful tone and content. Of course, your unique organizational culture determines what is “civil” discourse. Provide specific examples of what can damage the brand. Those will be different from what could erode the brand of a more conservative or flamboyant organization.
Introduce subject of disclaimer. You employers have the right to require a disclaimer on both your and employees’ own social sites. That will be applied when expression of a point of view is that of employees, not the organization’s.
The classic example is the employee who operates her private popular blog on tech developments. It is well-known she is employed full-time by you. Routinely she should post the disclaimer that this is her opinion, not reflecting those of her employer.
Everything changes in the world of work. Whatever intersects with social media has to be your business. It’s a much a risk factor as inflation, manpower turnover, currency fluctuation, and the cost of capital. That’s why staff has to be assigned to monitor this volatile aspect of conducting business in a digital era.
Jane Genova (http://janegenova.com)