A social media policy is an absolute must for all companies. Whether your intention is to encourage or restrict social media activity, a written policy provides clear direction for employees and a basis for enforcement for employers.
- Pervasive use of Social Networking. According to the Pew Research Center, 66% of online adults use social networking sites. As in offline chat, it is not uncommon for online conversation to include issues of employment, whether to promote or deride employers.
- All the cool companies have one. While “everybody else is doing it” isn’t really a good basis for business decisions, the reality is that providing a written social media policy is becoming the norm. Not convinced? Here’s a list of companies with published social media policies.
- Your employees deserve it. I personally have seen instances of employees disclosing confidential information, mocking clients and job seekers, ranting about bosses or coworkers and badmouthing company practices and policies. One instance resulted in job loss and I believe most could have been avoided had the employee been presented with a policy clarifying expectations for employee and employer alike at the time of employment.
While the temptation may be to simply forbid discussions pertaining to your organization, here’s a word of caution from employment lawyer Megan Erickson: “… It seems the NLRB intends to keep a keen eye on social media issues. Employers should be careful when disciplining employees for their social media or online activities — and should also ensure their social media policies or practices aren’t overbroad.” The NLRB’s general counsel generated a “Report Concerning Social Media Cases” [pdf] prompted by numerous requests for clarification from employers and employment lawyers about the rules surrounding social media.
Does your company have a social media policy? Do you feel like it matches your organizational culture and/or the real online habits of employees?