What to consider when drafting a social media policy

23 Jul

Are employees using social media at work?

Social media is a necessary evil in the business world these days. According to the most recent data from Pew Research, 74 percent of adult Internet users are active on social networking sites. That means, chances are, a lot of your staff members have an account on at least one platform. If this is the case, it's likely they visit it at some point in the day, possibly while on the clock. Creating social media policies is an important part of human resource planning to make sure employees don't go overboard to do anything inappropriate. 

Drawing a line between business and personal
Social media is often a business asset nowadays, so your policy shouldn't be so extreme that it prevents your staff from using social platforms. In fact, businesses can benefit from empowering employees to use their personal accounts to broadcast information about the brand. Outline in your policy in what circumstances staff should be encouraged to post about their employer, for instance, to cast a wider net when the company is hiring. Also, outline what staff shouldn't reveal online. In addition, if some of your staff have business-related accounts, you might need to draft a separate policy for them.

Cover legal aspects
According to Social Media Examiner, social media use can bring up labor-related issues in workplace settings, especially as it relates to the National Labor Relations Act, which covers employees' right to organize. In the past, such organization took place offline, but now, social media can be an obvious place for staff to convene. When drafting your policy, be careful about wording. If an employee posts something negative about the working conditions of the company on a personal account, he or she is likely within his right to do so.

Have an internal social channel
Social networking can have a positive impact on work culture by increasing engagement and providing a fun outlet for your staff. However, if you want to keep the conversation insulated from your employees' extended networks, consider setting up an internal network that would be accessible through employee self service. This network would allow staff to congratulate one another on jobs well done, communicate about events, suggest new ideas and engage in general chatter. One of the benefits of this setup is that it provides a way for entry level staff to potentially interact with executives.

Train and update as you go
Your policy is useless if employees don't know it exists. Address social media use as part of training processes. Social media changes all the time, as do the laws that govern its use in the workplace. Once you have a social media policy drafted, don't let it collect dust. Return to it frequently to determine if there are areas that need to be updated to reflect the current social environment or business culture.

Social media has enormous benefits for employers, but there are also liabilities involved. Because the majority of your employees are likely to have at least one social profile, it's smart for businesses to draft a policy they can refer to when necessary.

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