Social media at work: Tips for employees and employers
By Danica Leys, AgChatOZ
Social media is a reality that is here to stay. It permeates many facets of our lives and it has revolutionised the way the world connects and communicates. Even those that have made an active choice to not engage in social media, are influenced and affected by it in their everyday lives without even knowing. One of these areas of influence is in the workplace. Rapid uptake of social media has led to the lines between work and home becoming less and less distinct. Many work colleagues are now Facebook “friends” and recruiters and HR professionals commonly review applicant’s online profiles. An additional headache for employers is that workplace disputes and issues can now originate and take place on social media platforms, as well as in real life.
That being said, there is no going back now. We have to understand and learn how to manage and operate in workplaces where social media is a fact of life. Below, we provide some tips and guidance on how to manage social media from both an employee and employer perspective.
Workers, more than ever before, need to monitor and manage their online reputation. Just applied for a job? That’s great, but are you confident that you are going to come up well in the search results when the recruiter Google’s your name? Yes, the argument can be had that even if undesirable content is linked to you, much of it should not be taken into account when making hiring decisions. However, we all know that in reality, it can be difficult for even the most professional, principled and ethical recruiter in the world to erase that image of you drunk in Bali (for example!) from their mind when making employment decisions. For workers, there are some important tips to consider:
- Keep an eye on your public online profile. Google yourself from time to time, and set up a Google alert on your name.
- If you have multiple social media platforms, consider carefully how you are going to approach the use of each one. For example Facebook may be friends and family only, LinkedIn may be for work contacts only, and whilst you may keep twitter open, you need to consider if you take a professional or personal approach to its use.
- Double check privacy settings on all platforms you use. Do a “dummy run”, and see how much information you could find out about yourself if you were a member of the general public.
- Think about using social media to your advantage; use LinkedIn for example, to showcase your education, professional achievements and experience.
- Do you really need to be “friends” with you boss on Facebook? Think carefully about this. Likewise for subordinates.
- If your employer has a social media policy, read it and understand it. Understand that other policies in the workplace may apply equally in the social media world.
- Think twice before speaking negatively about the workplace on any social media forum. Private settings on Facebook still don’t prevent a simple “copy and paste” from someone else, potentially landing you in hot water.
Most employers have, or are starting to, recognise the need to address social media use at work. It has become an intrinsic part of the day-to-day life of many of their employees. Also, for many businesses, social media has become a key part of their marketing strategy. The following list of tips gives employers some key points to consider as part of their overall social media management strategy in the workplace.
- Don’t think that blocking or banning social media at work equals a solution. It doesn’t. Many people own smartphones and will access social media regardless.
- Have a social media policy that sets out clearly the parameters surrounding social media use in the workplace.
- Ensure that any social media policy is 100% consistent with existing policies and procedures, as well as any other specific laws and regulations that may be applicable to your business.
- In an age where more and more employees “bring their own device” to the workplace, you may need to incorporate provisions on this into either your social media policy or other technology policy.
- Make sure new employees are fully inducted on the rules surrounding social media at work.
- If using social media as part of your wider business strategy, consider having a separate set of provisions for those that are authorised to speak on behalf of the business.
- Training may be required at times.
- Monitoring is important. This can be with free tools such as Google alerts or more specialised platforms that you may have to pay for access to.