Have you ever looked at the social media accounts of your employees or those who are applying for a job role with you?
NO doubt you have heard stories from time to time of people posting stories and images on their social media accounts that have affected their jobs.
A couple of stories that quickly come to mind for me include a young lady who worked in an extremely strict religious school and posted photos of herself slightly worse for wear at a party on a cruise ship holiday. On her return to work after the cruise, she was fired.
Another example was a graduate student applying for a job with an adventure tourism company. They checked out his Facebook page and saw a photo of him canoeing down an overflowing city stream during a heavy rainfall without a life jacket or helmet. Personal safety of clients is a No. 1 priority in any adventure tourism business. He did not get the job.
Have a Social Media Policy
Now imagine one of your employees has publicly posted something that would harm your business in some way if enough people realized that person worked for you.
How do you react? How would you learn about it in the first place?
To limit the possibility of anything like this happening, it would be extremely wise to have a social media policy. This can make your staff aware of what they should not be expressed on social media where most of the world can potentially see what was posted.
Here are some topics that you need to make your employees aware of to reduce the risk of this information becoming widespread across the internet to negatively affect your business.
Violating Company Policy
Sharing warnings or personal company information – do not post about staffing decisions, new products, or any private or proprietary information if your company has not shared the information online.
Supplying references/endorsements on LinkedIn – if your policy does not supply references for leaving staff, will you allow your staff to make references on social media for former colleagues?
Negative comments about the job or clients – even with privacy settings in place, anybody can repost these sorts of comments on their account or take a photo or screenshot and repost.
Deceptive posts – taking a sick day from work and posting photos of you at the beach or a sporting event, etc.
Off-color, racist, sexist, or inappropriate comments – this is especially bad if they refer to a co-worker or client, but even if the target is unrelated to the workplace an employer does not want to be associated with someone making these kinds of comments publicly.
Have a Policy on Computer Use
Job Searching or Doing Other Work while at Work – scanning job search sites, preparing your resume and cover letter, or doing work on your side gig on the employer’s time is non-productive from your employer’s perspective and unethical behavior.
Misuse of email – use of the work email for personal communications is rarely appropriate. I know of a young married Director of a stockbroking firm who used his business email address for accessing dating sites and arranging meetings for “coffee” during the workday. He even emailed one of his personal “contacts” several times a day and in their online conversations, he would regularly criticize the other company Directors.
This was a prominent business in a small city, so it would not be difficult for many of his “contacts” to work out who he and his company were and post something embarrassing and damaging to the business. He was the son of one of the business founders and when his emails were discovered, his promising and privileged career ended abruptly.
Any employer is well within their rights to limit or restrict access to various corners of the internet, including social media sites, dating sites, pornography, and personal communications.
Provide Guidelines for Smart Social Media Use
Rather than restricting your social media policy to telling your staff what they can’t do, also provide guidelines so they can see how to use social media without accidentally doing something wrong.
Post smart – before posting, take a moment to think if your content could affect your employer in any way
Keep it confidential – don’t disclose any news about your employer – good or bad – unless you have asked first. Sometimes your employer will want their staff to spread the good news, but not always.
Be intelligent – if you are job searching, use your account and details for all communications
Think Before You Post
This is the best and simplest advice you can give your employees.
Once something is posted online it’s hard, if not impossible, to take it back. Even a deleted Twitter or Facebook post can be preserved through screenshots.
If there is any doubt about what you can, or can’t say, keep it to yourself. Ask yourself whether you need to say that and what you’ll gain from it. The answer is probably not enough to take a chance of losing your job.
Corporate Business Solutions can provide you with advice around preparing appropriate documentation to cover these situations and have many satisfied clients.