Did you know that misuse of the internet and social media by workers costs Britain’s economy billions of pounds every year? Time theft, defamation, cyber bullying and invasion of privacy issues can affect both your employees and your business, so you should take steps to formalise and control the use of social media.
Your social media policy
As part of your HR strategy, you should develop a social media policy to clearly set out what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace when using the internet, emails, smart phones, and networking websites. You need to be clear on the distinction between business and private use, and what amount of private use is acceptable for your employees. You also need to ensure that employees know what they can and cannot say online about your business and other employees.
It’s a good idea to develop these clear guidelines working alongside members of staff and management to ensure acceptance. Employees do not want to feel controlled about what they can and can’t do, in regards to their freedom of speech, and having input into the social media policy will build engagement throughout the business.
It’s also important to set appropriate rules for employees that might be tweeting or blogging on behalf of the company. What tone of voice they use, what they should and shouldn’t say to customers, how they react to complaints and so on can be standardised and the risk reduced by providing guidance beforehand. Make sure they know what information they can and can’t disclose, the opinions they can express and also give guidance on any relevant legislation or copyright issues.
The affect of social media on other areas of your business
Using social media to recruit candidates is now extremely popular and very useful given the exposure available through popular online platforms. However, employees should be made aware that, when recruiting, it may be discriminatory or unfair to assess potential applicants through their social media sites and profiles. Amending your current recruitment policy and procedures to include this information will reduce the risk of employees using social media to find out more about applicants.
It’s also a good idea to look through other existing policies to see how social media and internet use might affect them. For example, including the term cyber-bullying in policies regarding discrimination and bullying in the workplace.
When looking at disciplinary procedures, related to online activity, you should try to apply the same standards of conduct as you would in offline issues. You need to make employees aware, throughout the business, that whatever is said online will have the same consequences as comments made ‘in real life’.
If you need guidance on social media use and social media policy in your business, contact me today