In recent years Twitter, Facebook, U Tube, and LinkedIn have become part of everyday language and life as well as blogging. Employers have to make up their mind whether to offer access to social media or not and if so decide how their employees can use social media in the workplace which means drafting clear guidelines in a policy. Many employers to avoid potential misdemeanours deny access on workplace IT equipment with firewalls. Problem solved perhaps, but most mobiles and smart phones these days provide access to the internet and, therefore, social media sites which many cunning employees will use. A social media use policy needs to cover the eventuality of an employee not performing in their duties distracted by the addictive attraction of what their contacts are getting up to.
Many employers, on the other hand, do provide unbridled access with the caveat of “acceptable use”, which requires definition in terms of which sites are acceptable to access and transparency in terms of monitoring.
Social media sites are a public forum for all and sundry to view what they are writing about. Employees thefore need to be careful what they share with the world. There are examples of employees describing the wonderful time they are having on social pursuits when they have called in sick to their employer and other employees who have openly criticised their employer. An HR policy needs to cover what actions the employer will take if such activity comes to light.
When drafting a social media use policy it is important for an employer to consult with the workforce and/or unions before finalisation in order to get buy in. Implementation of the policy should be followed up by line manager training.
New recruits should be made aware of the policy as part of induction.