Social media is here to stay. At least 79 percent of Americans have at least one social media profile, and it’s quite common to see many glued to a phone, laptop or tablet for a least a portion of the day engaged in social media sites. But what does it mean when your employees use social media to talk about your company, vent about work situations or highlight choices that may paint your company in a bad light?
There are many reasons why an employer may monitor a person’s social media profiles. Social media posts have guided company hiring and termination decisions, but social media posts can also highlight worker dissatisfaction, misuse of time while on the clock, poor behavior or company and brand disparaging remarks.
Internet and social media use policy
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) advises its member companies to adopt clear warnings in employee manuals about how workers should conduct themselves online and what consequences exist for ignoring policies. It is imperative for companies of all sizes to instruct employees about how their social media and overall Internet use impacts their employment.
Make sure that your employee handbook includes a very clear Internet and social media policy. Advise employees to carefully consider what they are saying before creating online content. Clearly communicate that all employee conduct – whether in person or online – that negatively affects job performance, co-worker performance, your customers, your business partners or the company’s business interests may result in disciplinary action or eventual termination.
Work-related social media posts
The National Labor Relations Board has addressed work-related social media posts in several cases. Depending the circumstances, work-related social media posts can possibly qualify as protected activity, depending on post content. And in some cases, social media conversations about pay or work conditions with other employees may be protected, but simply complaining about one’s workplace on social media may not be protected. Some company social media policies have also been found to be unlawful. Therefore, it is important to consult with HR and legal experts when crafting and enforcing your company’s Internet and social media policy. And it’s important to update it often. Laws and best practices are always changing.
Personal social media posts
Do employees have the right to monitor employee behavior – online or otherwise – outside of the workplace? It is important to remain abreast of and aware of ever-changing laws on this topic. Laws vary by state and region. It is important to know and understand what laws apply to your business, your industry and your location in order for you to maintain compliance.
Monitoring and disciplining and employee based on social media activity is very much a grey area. No matter where your business is located geographically, it is important to fully understand the local laws and legal implications of monitoring your employee’s social media use. Retain human resources experts and legal counsel that can advise you the best way to handle employee social media use while keeping both your employee’s and your business’ best interests in mind.
Do you need help crafting or revising a corporate social media policy for your organization? Contact the experts at Wild Coffee HR today. We love partnering with companies to help them thrive. It’s what we do.