Human resource professionals less frequently view their role in social media as a policing function and more as a means of helping their organizations leverage the channel for employee engagement. However, that does not underscore the importance of implementing a social media policy.
A survey published earlier this year by the Society for Human Resource Management – titled An Examination of How Social Media Is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations – found 40 percent of surveyed employers currently have a formal social media policy in place. More than half of respondents – 55 percent – plan to increase their social media efforts over the next year.
But with increased social media use – both by employees and their respective organizations – the need to manage such activity grows. The same SHRM survey found 56 percent of companies with a social media policy have included provisions regarding the organization’s right to monitor use of social networks.
Mark Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM, points out that as social media takes on a larger role within the workplace – beyond mere marketing efforts – the role of human resources will grow and evolve as well. In fact, 43 percent of organizations depend on HR teams to create their social media policy, and 44 percent rely on them to enforce those rules.
Unfortunately, HR professionals can no longer rely on the common sense of their employees to protect their reputation from online outbursts. For that reason, they need to make clear their policies from the moment of hire and to frequently refresh workers on how these standards work.
This is perhaps more important for small businesses. The SHRM survey found larger companies and those with multinational locations are much more likely to have a social media strategy than small organizations based solely in the U.S.
At the same time, HR teams need to make sure that their policies do not overreach. As important as it is to sustain their company’s reputation within the social web, human resource leaders need to be wary of dwindling employee engagement. That means striking a balance, where the policy stays clear of employees’ personal lives but also upholds the integrity of the organization.