‘SOCIAL MEDIA' POLICY
It feels as though they have been part of our social lives forever and is hard to imagine a world without them!
THE giants LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were founded between 2002 and 2006 and yet have revolutionised how we communicate and interact with those we, amongst other things, ‘follow’ or call ‘friends’ most of whom we have never met, or whose circulation we simply ‘like’. With the rise of social media comes the need for a new policy to deal with employees’ use of it, which employers may find damaging for one reason or another. Surprisingly, for many organisations a Social Media Policy is still absent from the staff handbook or it simply does not exist. Or, understandably to some degree, the policy they do have covers workplace but not personal use. Chances are that employers would probably need both. Why?
IT is highly unlikely that simply ‘liking’ a circular that an employer finds unpalatable and obviously generated originally by another person (not the employee) would land that employee in any serious trouble let alone dismissal – summary or otherwise.
HOWEVER, the position may well be different if such an unpalatable message had been written by the employee his/herself who had the message ‘liked’ beyond their control. Going viral springs to mind; although we need not go so far (No pun intended!).
EVEN with ‘privacy’ settings on the problem is the employee (author of the original message) has no control over what the ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ does with the message let alone what their friends/followers do with it. You get the message (Again, no pun intended!).
Clear Policy AND Damage suffered
FURTHERMORE, it is unlikely to be enough for a message to be unpalatable to an employer that would justify a related dismissal as being fair. The employer would have to show that it has a clear policy that covers the act complained of – is it a ‘workplace’ or ‘personal’ matter or both? – and that the message damages the employer i.e. its reputation or its product or the service it provides. My advice is to have a ‘Social Media Policy’ that is relevant to what you want to protect and achieve.