Social Media & Employee Conduct: When & How to Regulate - Zupnick Associates

(by Saad Imran)

In 2013, Justin Sacco, the PR executive of IAC, tweeted out this: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just Kidding. I’m white”. She tweeted this while boarding a flight to South Africa for a family vacation. Although she had fewer Twitter followers, her tweet went viral on Twitter and was picked up by BuzzFeed

Twelve hours later, when she landed in South Africa, she had been fired by IAC. Sacco later apologized for her remarks and said she was ‘ashamed.’

Checking up the social media of potential employees has become an essential point in the recruiting process. According to this survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during hiring. Even after hiring, keeping your employee’s social media in check is the right thing to do. A study held in 2018 showed that out of 239 large companies, 50% were monitoring their employees’ social media activity. 

In this interconnected world, your employees act as your ambassadors online. If they commit any misconduct, it can negatively affect your brand perception and values. To get to know more about why social media employee regulation is essential, read this article

Let’s face it, as an employer, monitoring your employees’ social media is pretty dull. Maybe you’ll come across funny and random stuff, and you would have to give it more importance than it deserves as it’s part of your job.

Privacy laws also play a part in the social media monitoring of your employees. Presently, 22 US states have passed legislation regarding social media monitoring by employers. In a nutshell, you can only view employee information in the public domain; asking them for their social media access is not allowed.

While checking up on your employees’ social media, you may also feel like an intruder in their personal life. There’s also the dilemma of whether you should monitor your employee’s online activity during office hours only or 24/7.

How You Can Avoid this Situation

Here are the steps you can take to avoid constant monitoring of your employee social media:

Develop a social media policy.

A social media policy should be an essential part of your company documentation in this day and age. It should clearly outline what things you’ll allow under the social media usage of employees. Develop this policy and integrate it into your hiring process so that every potential employee can be made aware of it. To get to know more about why a social media policy is important, read this article.

Aware and Educate. 

Hold conferences and seminars about appropriate social media usage. Tell your employees that whatever they post online can never be permanently deleted. Let them know the repercussions of expressing their thoughts online unfiltered. They should be made aware of every aspect of your social media policy.

Share the information you’re monitoring with them. 

Let your employees know the tools you’ve deployed to monitor social media usage in your workplace. Share that information with them and offer suggestions to improve their online behavior.  

Where To Draw The Line

Social media monitoring can be an undesirable scenario, however, some lines need to be drawn. You should have a no-tolerance policy for the following online behaviors:

Harassment and Bullying. 

Be it sexual harassment or threatening someone for their race, gender, sexual orientation, or color, your employees need to be aware that anyone engaging in bigoted behavior online will face severe repercussions. And no, writing “views expressed here are personal” in their bio does not suffice. 

Sharing of Trade Secrets. 

Some of your employees may possess information about an upcoming product or service launch, your marketing tactics, or confidential information about your clients. Let them know that sharing any such information is absolutely not acceptable, and if your company faces losses because of their misconduct, you would have to take undesirable actions. 

Hate Speech and Violent threats. 

Let your employees know that your organization does not tolerate threatening behavior and  engaging in violent threats or hate speech online against any community, cause or a person will not only cause them to lose their job but also warrant a call to law enforcement authorities. 

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