Social Media Conundrums

June 10, 2015

There are four things to think about:

•      Managing excessive, inappropriate or unproductive use
•      Protecting yourself against the actions of an employee
•      Monitoring use without being too Big Brother
•      Guarding against the departure of an employee

Once you’ve had a think about how you feel you want to tackle each of these points then you’re ready to produce a clearly worded social media policy. Whilst we’re not about paper for paperwork’s sake, this means you’ll have everything you need in place if you need to discipline or worse, dismiss an employee.

The big picture
The social media landscape changes daily and if your policies are focused on a specific social media site, they will date pretty quickly. The policy should focus on the big picture: who does what, a general overview of how they can and cannot do it e.g. legal compliance and branding and why we do it at all.

Clear usage guidelines
A social media policy that protects and empowers high quality engagement is the ultimate aim for any company. To achieve this, it’s imperative that the policy outlines the boundaries around what is acceptable and unacceptable and by doing so employees will be clear of the limits of what they can and cannot do online within and outside of core working hours.

Communication of the policy
Once a social media policy has been defined with consideration of differing roles being subject to different policies, it should be articulated clearly as part of the overall communication policy that also focuses on use of email, webmail, instant messaging, cloud based storage tools, collaborative workspaces and any other capabilities through which individuals share company information e.g. USBs.

According to a survey by the recruitment agency, 40% of UK employees admit criticising their employers on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, which raises two areas of concern; Vicarious Liability and Equality Act 2010. Hence the need for effective policies communication and training!

Tools and Devices
It is recommended that the policy be specific in regard to which tools can and cannot be used supported by rationale. Many employees have use of multiple communication devices to interact on the social media sites, as well as the platforms by which these sites are accessed; laptop, desktop and home computers, personal and work mobile smartphones, iPads etc.

Monitoring usage
Legislation does permit companies to monitor employees use of social media, although employees should be informed it is going to take place and staff with access to information obtained through monitoring should be limited whilst also have received appropriate training. Data obtained through monitoring should be secure and archiving software solutions can also be utilised to enforce the policy.

Who owns the contacts?
Discussions around succession planning is also advised as part of social media policies. When an employee leaves the company the policy should include guidelines about “ownership” of the followers or friends of that employee. Some recent court cases have also helped to clarify where these grey areas exist.

Ideally you should mark your calendars to review your policy every 6 months.

Social media policies are not the most exciting part of social media; however, if they are developed well, they can support, empower and engage employees as they in turn engage your clients which is priceless!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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