Social Media Policy
Why your company needs a social media policy
Social media can bring significant benefits to the Company, particularly for building relationships with current and potential clients, customers and/or suppliers. However, it is important that employees who use social media within the Company do so in a way that enhances the company’s prospects, companies can protect themselves by implementing social media policy within employee handbooks.
Risk of Social media in the workplace
There are many risks to the use of social media within a company, indicating the requirement for social media policy in the workplace, including:
1) a misjudged status update or inappropriate tweet, which can generate complaints or damage a company’s reputation. This can be caused either whilst using social media at work using office equipment or in an employee’s spare time on their own equipment at home. With the old distinction of work and home breaking down, an employer can take disciplinary action if it impacts upon the company regardless of whether it was posted at home or work, or on the employee’s own equipment or the employer’s.
2) An obvious risk to employers is employees wasting time by accessing social media regularly during working hours. By taking a minute to scroll through posts, it is easy to lose track of time and before you know it, 5 – 10 minutes have passed scrolling through Instagram. Multiply these minutes by the number of employees in the company and the amount of working time lost can be substantial.
3) A breach of confidentiality could arise and is potentially very dangerous for a company. This includes any disclose of trade secrets, information relating to clients, or the disclosure of any information that could result in a claim of breach of confidence. A breach of confidentiality could occur out of malice by a disgruntled employee, or it may be unintentional, for example, by an employee celebrating the achievement in work of signing up a new client.
4) Another threat is from employees defaming others using the employer’s social media platforms. Employees speak their own minds on social media through blogging and tweeting. Being sat in front of a computer can encourage bravery and result in strong opinions being expressed through controversial comments. There is a high risk of these comments getting re-tweeted or copied very quickly and spreading widely, especially if it involves a well-known person or organisation.
5) Employers need to carefully consider the pros and cons of “associating” with their employees online. On the one hand, doing so helps to foster a community spirit, on the other they may discover more than they might wish to, as might other employees. Employers not only have a liability to employees but also to prospective employees and should be discouraged from viewing social medial platforms during the recruitment process to avoid the possibility of a claim relating to candidates’ protected characteristics.
Why have a Social media policy?
To remove the risks associated with social media, employers should educate their employees on expectations of conduct on social media, especially if the company can be linked. The company should also be clear in setting out what is appropriate behaviour and what would constitute unacceptable use, through a well-drafted social media policy.
Our HR consultants can develop a Social media policy to fit your business requirements and needs, following current and up-to-date employment laws.
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