Evan Rodd, PayScale
Social media is the ultimate 21st century water cooler, allowing just about anyone to say, well, just about anything to various audiences. Unfortunately, this freedom can sometimes paint a less-than-professional picture of your company, especially when employees use social media as a means to air grievances surrounding their jobs.
From health code violating fast food workers, to complaints about pay and work life balance, employee social media use has caused many companies to adopt a social media policy which outlines specific guidelines regarding how employees conduct themselves in the digital domain. PayScale's survey of more than 4000 businesses for The 2013 Compensation Best Practices Report found that 56% of companies already have a social media policy.
According to a recent blog post on Open Forum, “Half of human resources professionals say that ‘IT abuses have increased over the past five years’ among new college graduates, according to the 2013 Professionalism in the Workplace study conducted by York College’s Center for Professional Excellence.”
Companies don’t seem to have a problem with their employees being on social media, but more how employees may discuss their feelings in regards to their job, or pay, on social media. Employee blunders online can have a real impact on your business, especially if said blunders end up on the front page of Reddit. Before you run out and draft a new set of social media rules, it’s important to note that certain forms of employee speech are protected, even online. Social Media Governance is an excellent resource to help you craft policies that are both lawful, and help protect your company’s brand. When you begin to draft a policy, there are a few things to consider:
- Your social media policy should reflect your company culture. Adopting an open door policy between employees and management could help halt angry Facebook posts, not to mention stimulate collaboration and productivity. If you fear employee tweets in regards to salary, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your current compensation strategy? If it’s overall happiness you worry about, ask yourself what types of company perks you offer that help increase employee satisfaction. Employees who feel they can speak openly with management will probably be less likely to tweet their complaints. It is also good to note that activities that are considered illegal at work are also illegal on social media.
- Some topics are still off limits. Some information should remain confidential, and your social media policy needs to address this. Define clear guidelines for employees so there is little room for misjudgment. Additionally, outline the ramifications of social media gone wrong, and discuss the disciplinary actions that will take place as a result. Employees who feel informed and empowered will be less likely to discuss sensitive information online.
- Is your company on social media? Who’s in charge? Sometimes, streamlining the way your company handles customer or consumer inquiries via social media will help prevent misinformation, and help you make sure you’re conveying the correct brand identity. Make sure your policy outlines how your employees discuss your company on social media, or where questions and concerns should be directed. Whether it’s your social media manager, or an external agency, have a plan in place to guide requests, and avoid poor community management.
Does your company have a social media policy in place? If so, how do you allow employees to exercise their freedom of tweet while still upholding company values?