When Social Media Becomes a Problem
What to Do About Negative Tweets and Posts from Employees
The social media hyper-trend of the 21st century is not subsiding, and as with every other popular trend, it comes with its share of problems. One problem is when employees make negative public statements about the company they work for, or paint the company in a negative light by using profanity in their social media presence, while also representing the company by listing it as their place of employment. Although the private lives of employees have to be respected, a line has to be drawn when salacious communication is tarnishing the image of the company.
What Can HR Do About Employees’ Social Media Presence?
Not only does news travel fast on the information super highway, whatever is sent out in this newfangled electronic world, lives there forever. If it is negatively affecting the social presence of the company, immediate action is required. A practical and comprehensive company policy related to social media has to be rolled out. Once it is officially launched, any future controversial online statements can either be avoided, or dealt with swiftly and fairly.
Tips for Implementing a Successful Social Media Policy
Develop a bespoke policy – By using professional consultants or organisations in collaboration with your in-house human resources team, you will be able to construct a social media policy suited to your company’s unique needs. Finalise the policy with help from a legal advisor to ensure compliance with HR legislation.
Include a growing Q&A section – By creating a regularly updated question and answers section, employees can continue learning about the company’s evolving social media policy. Questions asked by employees can also give employers an indication of where the policy needs to be amended and improved.
Speak to union leaders – Before launching the policy, make your intention, and the policy content known to union leaders. Although they may question the content for clarification, is likely that unions will back you up with what you are trying to achieve.
A successful introduction – When introducing the policy, start by describing trends and events that led the company to making this important decision. Avoid highlighting specific infringements, but explain clearly why the policy is important. Make sure that the fundamentals of the policy are made understandable to all employees.
A gentle warning – Clearly communicate the disciplinary consequences should employees choose to ignore the new company policy and the exact repercussions of repeated violations. Do this while emphasising the positive effect the policy will have on the company as a whole. The aim is to motivate employees to be concerned, not afraid.
Get employees to sign off – After explaining the new policy to employees in a positive light, individual copies should be distributed and employees should sign to acknowledge that they received and read it.
Make it best practice – Once established and signed off, include the social media policy in future communications with new employees to get early buy-in and sign off. If your company has a staff handbook, incorporate the policy into it and make it part of all staff orientation programs.