Many people know that for the past few years, employers have been turning to the Internet to help them scrutinize potential candidates. For many businesses, this kind of research can be an important step in making sure that the reputation of their organization remains sterling. However, what assurances do employers have regarding an employee’s activities once they’re hired?
Social Media Meets Media Policies
So-called social media policies are a new form of company policy that many major organizations have begun to implement in order to better govern the behavior of their employees on social media networks. It’s no secret that people will do and say things on the internet that they wouldn’t normally, especially when it comes to potentially offensive speech or media.
And while it’s unwise and impractical to ban employees from using social media or from mentioning their place of employment online, a social media policy can often be the moderate solution needed to create harmony between the intersecting lives of professionals on and offline. In a world where businesses are willing to shell out such a huge portion of their budget towards building a better image, it’s easy to understand why you would want to protect the reputation of your company. But what would a social media policy look like?
Finding the Right Policy
If your organization makes use of social media to communicate to clients, or your employees use social media to communicate with one another, your approach to a non-invasive and comprehensive social media policy would obviously be different. Some media policies do little more than ask their employees to only write or post things that they wouldn’t mind their entire city knowing. Others have found it more useful to educate their employees that the context of a remark matters, and removing, obscuring, or misinterpreting the context of a statement is remarkably easy to do.
While every social media policy needs to be crafted in order to meet the unique demands its organization, some of the most common features of these policies includes consideration for data protection, harassment, confidentiality, intellectual property, and reporting of inappropriate behaviors online. While partially prohibitive, the characters of these policies are also crucially educational. They should help employees to ensure they’re aware of what content they’re sharing publically through their privacy settings, to understand where their professional presence online and their private life is separated, and to double-check before uploading any content, especially if they’re unable to have a final say in who gets to see or read it.
While a heavy-handed approach might seem to make more sense for some businesses, it’s worth noting that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employee speech when engaged they are engaged in “concerted” activities, including activities where coworkers speak and invite others to comment on their actions. For instance, expressing how you feel to another coworker and prompting them to reply is a protected activity whether it occurs in person or digitally.
It’s often said that the best defense is a good offense, and for many, the same applies to their social media policy. Rather than just preventing problems from emerging, a social media policy can encourage your employees to color within the lines in a way that will help them embrace opportunities to improve the image of their employer online. That is, not only can they be informative on how to avoid damaging company image, they can also be used to enunciate how employees can take action towards doing just the opposite.