If you’ve spent any amount of time, almost anywhere in the world, outside rural Siberia, you most likely know about social media.
Social media has now reached a point of ubiquity that has previous technologies such as TV, or the Internet took decades to achieve. So, as a business or HR leader, how do you deal with social medias near-omnipresence?
You can’t ignore it, that wouldn’t solve anything. Your company needs to have a complete social media policy that details the dos and don’ts of social media at work.
Relax, Dikembe Mutombo
Before we delve into creating a social media policy, we must first explain why you need one. Social media, on its surface, is a workplace distraction that can cost your business. A logical response to, therefore, would be to simply ban it from the workplace.
Before you reject social media at work, Dikembe Mutombo style; though, it’s important to consider the advantages it can hold. While social media can be a time waste, it can also (brace yourselves) aid in your staffs’ productivity.
There are several benefits that social media can provide to you employees, and the company overall. Social media can help employees:
- Take quick mental breaks
- Make and support professional connections
- Ask questions and solve a work problem
- Strengthen and build personal relationships with coworkers
- Discover and deliver information
- Gain recognition
- Increase personal productivity
- Promote and market your business
The numbers back up these benefits, too. According to Pew Research, 78 percent of workers who use social media say it is useful for networking and finding new job opportunities. Similarly, 71 percent say that social media is useful for staying in touch with others in their field.
Additionally, because of the prevalence of mobile technology, blocking social media will likely be futile. If you block access to social media sites via your company networks, it could end up having no effect. Your employees will simply turn to mobile networks.
So, instead of just banning social media, it may be wise to consider a more measured approach. Consider the above benefits, before you finger-wag away social media.
Learn more about the potential work benefits of social media.
Creating Your Social Media Policy
Like any other employee handbook or guide, your social media policy needs to be written in a clear and concise manner. There should be specific examples of acceptable and unacceptable conduct.
Similar to any other code of conduct, your social media policy has to show, not just explain, how to stay on the right side of the “line.” Also, it is important that your social media policy fits in, and doesn’t conflict, with your other workplace policies.
As Sprout Social puts it, your social media policy has to have two primary goals. First, it has to set expectations for appropriate online behavior, and second has to protect your organization from legal issues or potential online crises.
According to HRZone, there are six main areas your social media policy should cover. These are:
Create rules about the security of your network and company devices. These rules should cover anti-virus protection, recognizing scams and potential attacks, your company’s firewalls, and completing downloads on devices.
Your policy should also include guidelines on creating and maintaining passwords, and how to respond in case of a security breach or cyber-attack.
2. Acceptable Behavior
This section should outline your organization’s expectations for appropriate online conduct. Are employees allowed any personal use while on the job? Which websites are deemed inappropriate for work, if any?
Also, policy should detail specifically, how employees should interact with the company and brand, on social media. Every employee needs to know how to talk about the business and its products/services and how to respond to mentions, either positive or negative.
3. Smart Phones
Will you allow for the usage of smart phones in the workplace? Which functions are appropriate for use? If your company provides, even some, employees with smart phones, rules for these devices need to be outlined.
4. Social Networks
Explain when, where, why, and how employees can appropriately use social media. Your staff has to know if they can mention their jobs, use social networks at work, and what is and isn’t acceptable to post about.
Another important rule to detail is what information your employees can or can’t put online, due to confidentiality. Every staff member needs to know what they shouldn’t put on the Internet.
5. Data Monitoring
What monitoring will you be doing, and who will be doing it? You should be transparent with your employees about what you are monitoring, how often you’ll be doing it, and who is responsible for the monitoring.
It’s also important to ensure all of your data monitoring, and the accompanying policy is done legally.
6. Disciplinary Consequences of a Breach of the Policy
Lastly, it’s necessary to include what the potential disciplinary consequences of a violation of this policy are. You don’t want to describe specific scenarios, but it’s important to include the possibility of disciplinary sanctions when appropriate.
It is also important to clearly detail how any harassment or bullying done via social media, will be treated the same way as these actions in any other context.
There are risks anytime your employees access social media. And yet there are certain risks to barring social media from your workplace too.
If you’re ready to ditch the frozen Siberian tundra and walk into the 21st century, embrace social media in your workplace.