How To Set A Social Media Policy That Won’t Get Your Employees FiredBy Lisa Skapinker on May 17, 2012 in How To...
The past few years have seen a surge in the number of Facebook-related firings at work. In 2009, a Swiss insurance worker was fired for surfing Facebook while taking sick time. In 2010, 22-year-old North Carolina waitress Ashley Johnson was fired from her pizza-making job for griping about customers over Facebook. And in 2012, a juvenile detention center youth manager lost her job for posting confidential information about a girl in custody at the center on Facebook.
Facebook interactions are no longer private and, as is the case in physical non-work settings, employees are being treated as representatives of their companies. They are expected to behave respectfully and professionally, and represent their organizations like they’d be expected to in person.
The nature of social networks, and the constant reiteration that they’re an extension of our daily interactions, has blurred the lines between what’s personal and what’s professional in the social sphere. As we mentioned in December, employees feel comfortable enough on Twitter to bemoan their much-loathed performance reviews over the social platform. Or complain about their boss over Facebook. Or blog about nightmare customers. And, for millennials whose Facebook days predate the floodgates opening to anyone and everyone with an email address, their Facebook page may include a backlog of damning photos from beer pong tournaments and frat parties of yore.
This makes it especially tough for companies to set standardized social media policies. So it’s no surprise that the AP recently reported that job candidates were being asked to hand over their Facebook passwords to the companies with whom they were interviewing. But there are ways companies can strike a balance and set a company-wide social media policy that both respects employees’ privacy while still demanding professional standards. Here are five ways to set a standardized social media policy that will have both individuals and executives clicking the LIKE button:
- Respect your employees’ personal privacy. Employees need to respectfully represent their company’s public image through social media, but companies also need to be respectful of their employees’ privacy. That means letting employees guard the privacy of their personal passwords and not be forced to join a company-wide network or friend their boss or HR against their will.
- Create your own in-house social network. Companies seeking to drive digital conversations about work should consider creating their own in-house social networks. This allows companies to set clear guidelines and create positive interactions in a safe, transparent digital environment that will enhance teamwork and productivity instead of distract from it.
- Designate dedicated social spaces to discuss work. Dedicated social spaces are a huge asset for companies looking to create a great culture for their people and improve productivity. These spaces can be public or private, and they can be a huge asset for both HR and managers. Employees can create conversations around setting goals and get useful feedback from coworkers, instead of using their personal social media to air complaints. When employees feel like the social tools give them a voice, they’ll feel more empowered and more motivated.
- Be clear about confidential information. Companies need to have strict guidelines about discussing confidential information on social media. If employees choose to violate those guidelines, the company will be justified in taking disciplinary action.
- Train employees on how to properly use social media. Especially among older employees, some of the Facebook mishaps could be attributed to lack of understanding of social media. Take some time to train your people on how to properly use social networks and advise them on its privacy policies.