After the media hurricane surrounding Paris Brown and her comments on tweeter swiftly followed by Trainee accountant Emma Way boasting about knocking a cyclist off his bike on twitter, more and more employers are asking what can be done to safeguard their business from risk whilst respecting the employee’s right to a private life.
It is without doubt that social media is an integral part of a business’s success in today’s economy. Social media tools are being used as part of large scale sales and marketing campaigns, innovative methods of recruiting new staff as well as a method to interact easily with customers and employees alike. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google plus have paved the way for a paperless existence where virtual communication may soon be the only form of communication. However, with the ever growing cross-over of personal and profession lives and the impact comments both past and present can have raises the question, what can employers do to manage employees’ use of social media?
Where employers become concerned as a result of an employees’ lackadaisical use of social media and there is a fear of the detrimental impact on the business avoid an instantaneous reaction. If a social media comment is made where the employer feels aggrieved and alarmed at the message or content consideration and a full assessment should be carried out. Ascertain whether this has or could cause serious damage to its reputation.
In the case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust, Smith commented on his Facebook page that he was against gay marriage. He was subsequently disciplined by the Trust because they felt the comment caused offence and damaged its reputation. It was found that the employee in expressing his views had not brought the Trust into disrepute and as such he had not breach his contract of employment. Employers before taking disciplinary action must consider if there is a real risk of reputational damage and if this can be demonstrated under scrutiny.
To mitigate risks employers should ensure they have in place a robust social media policy. A large majority of employers are now moving to a state of not allowing access to social networking websites from its computers at any time and also restrict access to certain websites. In addition to ensure confidentiality and its reputation is protected, when using social networking sites some employers request that employees do not identify themselves as working for the Company. Further steps can request that employees ensure their interactions do not damage working relationships between members of staff and the Company’s clients. The policy should clearly express what behaviour (both at work and outside work) may be considered inappropriate. This can then be monitored in line with the Company’s Computer and Electronic Communication Policy. Employers may then have a legitimate grievance if an employee brings the organisation into disrepute or creates an issue between the business and its customers.
If you do not currently have a Social Media Policy or Computer and Electronic Communication Policy in place, you are at risk!
Have your policy created and tailored to your business. Ensure a thorough implementation of the policy by providing appropriate training. This will reinforce the businesses positions highlighting that the employees know exactly what is expected of them in respect of social media and their comments.
Call or email Harries Human Resources NOW to discuss the creation and implementation of this much needed policy today on 01206 865 464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.