29th July, 2021
Managing social media in the workplace
Social media, in recent years, has significantly changed the way individuals interact with one another, and as such employers need to be ‘live’ to the fact that controversial or derogatory comments employees make on social media can have disastrous consequences to the employer’s business or their reputation.
Employers should consider implementing a social media policy. A social media policy should contain guidelines for responsible social media use, and the consequences of breaching these guidelines. Employees should be aware of whether they can use social media in the workplace, for example, Linkedin and Twitter have become prevalent in the workplace, whereas Instagram and Facebook are often more associated with personal use but there can be an overlap between personal and business use depending on the nature of the employer’s business.
It is important that employees are aware of what social media they can or cannot use during working hours and, if using social media what they can or cannot say regardless of whether this is during or outside working hours if it could have a detrimental impact on their employer or associate them with their employer. Many employers request that employees do not refer to their employer or workplace on social media platforms and do not engage in communications which could bring their employer into disrepute.
Employers should make it clear in their policy that the consequences of breaching the social media policy include potential disciplinary action which could, in some cases, lead to dismissal. By having a social media policy, the employer may be able to take disciplinary action if a post is deemed inappropriate and/ in some cases depending on the nature of the post and how this may impact the employer, the employer may also be able to ask that employee to take the social media post down from their platform.
The reputational damage a derogatory or controversial social media post can have, can be far reaching. Therefore, employers should clearly communicate to their employees the standards that are expected of them in view to manage the risks that can be posed by social media.
Tips for employers
- Put in place a social media policy that reflects the organisations rules in relation to social media use
- Communication is key
- Include social media within the disciplinary policy with examples of what could amount to misconduct and/or gross misconduct
- Ensure managers are given guidelines so there is consistency of approach when it comes to employees using social media
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