Why and How you Should Implement a Social Media Policy at Work

BlogHR Advice Posted: Thursday 3rd September 2015 by

We cannot get away from the fact that we live a digital world, with more millennials now privately communicating via social media networks than by phone or email. More than 74% of adults have a social media account, so it’s a good bet that the majority of your workforce will have some form of online presence.

What does this mean for your business?

With your employees at every level communicating with their social network outside of your control, it would be ridiculous to think that you could – or would want to – monitor every interaction.

However, consider for a moment that one or more of your employees were posting defamatory or brand damaging content regarding your business, their colleagues, or indeed yourself. Do you have the appropriate policies in place to legally carry out disciplinary action for such an infraction? If not, then perhaps it’s time to consider implementing a social media policy at work.

Communicate Your Plans

As with the implementation of any new policy into your workplace, it is important that your employees feel trusted and that they are able to voice their opinions and concerns. Implementing a new social media policy without any effort to communicate, could cause unrest among your workforce, or worse, it could send a signal that you don’t trust them to manage their own social activity.

Take time to clearly explain to the entire workforce how their social media actions directly and indirectly reflects on your company brand and make it clear what, as a company, you will find unacceptable. Providing examples of unacceptable social media activity in and out of work will also help you to clarify your position.

Define the Parameters

The parameters of your social media policy need to include:

  • details of the company’s own social media activity
  • the objectives and necessary reasons for implementing a social media policy within the workplace
  • details of how the social media policy will effect data protection laws, and
  • any disciplinary action that will be taken if the policy is breached

A social media policy should always be written with the aim of protecting the company’s reputation and security of data, as well as provide a legitimate reason for requiring compliance outside of the working environment.

Rolling Out Your New Social Media Policy

Once the parameters of the new policy have been drafted and agreed, these should then be rolled out across the entire business, without singling anyone out.

This should be done in a formal manner, preferably via your HR department, with details of the person in charge of monitoring social media activity and ensuring compliance. However, it is impossible for the policy to cover former employees as they are no longer on your payroll. Defamation and brand damage caused by a former employee should be seen as an external legal matter and appropriate action taken to maintain the consistency of your company’s standpoint on social media activity.

On the flip side, social media was invented as a platform for fun and freedom of speech, to provide everyone with the opportunity to actively share their views and communicate with their friends, family and colleagues from around the world. It is therefore important that this is considered when defining the parameters of your workplace social media policy.

Because social media is probably used as part of your company’s existing marketing efforts, and your employees can often be your biggest supporters, it could also be worth appointing a Brand Ambassador or two within your organisation to bolster these efforts.

 

Need Help?

Human Results offer expert HR services on retainer, or on a one-off basis to help guide you through the daily challenges of managing your business from a people perspective.

We also provide expert leadership development coaching programmes to secure long-term capability within your organisation, and a critical support structure for your leaders.

For more information, call Human Results on 01952 288361 for a no obligation, confidential discussion.

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