Human Resources: Should Every Company Have a Workplace Social Media Policy?

September 5, 2018

Andy Warhol famously said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” He said this in 1968 and he died in 1987. It’s a shame that Andy didn’t live long enough to see the Internet prove him right. Today, anyone with an internet connection can become famous – or infamous, as the case may be. With the Internet, anyone can now publish videos, pictures, or even just regrettable words all over the world in a poorly planned blink of an eye.

The Rewards and the Risks of Social Media

In the last thirty years, the Internet has gone from being a technical curiosity and a nerd haven to an absolute essential. Today, people use the Internet for just about everything, big and small. In fact, it’s hard to think of something that the Internet isn’t used for. This extends to Human Resources.

Today, people use the internet for most Human Resources tasks. For instance, almost every company uses the Internet for job seekers, both internal and external. That’s not new, of course, but HR websites have really expanded their offerings. Now, employees can use HR software like iSolved

to access Human Resources online to update their benefits or check their attendance. The can use the Internet to access the online payroll center to update their payroll tax deductions, view their time and attendance tracking, or view their paycheck online.

But for all the convenience that the Internet has provided, it’s also made life much more complicated. After all, everything that you share on the Internet has a way of staying available. Every embarrassing photo that gets posted, every awkward video, every ill-considered comment. Anything can come back to haunt you – and anything you say about your job, your co-workers, your department, and your company can come back to haunt them as well.

Why You Should Have a Social Media Policy

The question isn’t, “Does my company need a social media policy?” You do. You should have a social media policy to protect your company and to protect your employees. Over 70% of American companies report disciplining employees due to inappropriate Internet usage while at work. And the sad part is that, while your company can monitor how your associates are using the Internet while they’re at work, there is no way to control what happens while they’re away from the office.

What is an employer to do?

Social Media Policy at Work

Setting and enforcing social media policy for your employees while they’re at work is simple. Block social websites like Facebook and Instagram unless your associates absolutely need to have access to them. Your marketing team can tell you how having a strong, positive Facebook presence will benefit your company. Other departments, well, perhaps not.

Another idea is to block access to external email and cloud drives. Most companies stopped allowing employees to bring floppy discs, and later, USB drives, to work in order to prevent proprietary documents and information from leaving the company. Of course, now, with cloud computing, it is no longer necessary to bring in an external device to copy sensitive company information. The best way to combat this is to prevent access to these sites.

Controlling your internal systems is just the start of the problem, however. How do you keep your employees from making business- and career-damaging mistakes on the web when they’re not at work?

Make a Clear Policy that you Regularly Communicate

The first step in making sure your employees don’t post anything embarrassing or damaging to the company is to create a clear policy that is well-communicated. The policy should spell out what is and what is not allowed.

As an employer, you can’t stop your employees from posting silly things on the Internet, but you can prevent them from posting those things in your company’s name. You should make it clear that if an employee wants to do something like post a video of them participating in a hot dog eating competition on YouTube, they shouldn’t do it while wearing a t-shirt with your corporate logo.

You can add whatever details you believe are necessary, but you should make sure to remind your employees about the reach of social media and about the need for confidentiality and respect. Your policy should clearly outline the consequences for breaking the rules. It should also advise associates that they may be subject to legal consequences. For the best results, you should regularly update and publicize the policy on an annual basis.

If you’re looking for direction on how to create and publicize a social media policy, there are a lot of resources out there. One of the most comprehensive is this video, provided by Commonwealth Payroll & HR.

For more information on how Commonwealth Payroll & HR can work with you on your strategic human resources planning, call us today at 877-245-1159

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