As an employer, it’s essential that you understand the responsibility you have when managing your employees’ social media use.
How should you regulate the social media activities of your employees? You’ve probably heard this question before – It’s been an issue since social media first became popular.
However, as social media keeps evolving, so do your responsibilities to protect your employees’ privacy, your customers’ data, and your business.
Tough issues for sure – But, to help out, here are some important facts to know.
Understand the Security Risks of Social Media
There are two sides to the social media question – How to view employees’ social media activity, and how to regulate it while on the job.
Let’s start with an answer to the first question: As an employer, you must understand how employee use of social media can pose a risk to your security. This includes the danger of them accidentally giving out (or being tricked into providing) sensitive employee or customer information. This could be as innocent as them falling for a phishing scheme.
Additionally, malware circulates on social media in the form of corrupted links that can infect your devices if employees click on them. This would be disastrous for your organization.
Understand Employee Privacy Concerns
On the other hand, you must understand how employees view their own social-media privacy. It’s not realistic to say, “Well, you can never use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media sites.”
This also goes as well for other modes of communication. For example, if employees use their phones for work purposes, can IT monitor their calls? What about their texts? The organizations that have adopted this type of oversight end up regretting it, because it leads to a tense workplace environment. So where do you draw the line?
You Must Know and Adhere to Local Laws
Social media privacy rules are evolving at a fast rate. This makes decisions even more complicated for businesses when it comes to social-media policies for their employees. Not only are these laws highly politicized, they are often far removed from workplace realities.
As part of your social-media strategy, review the current social media laws in the states where you do business. Keep in mind that there are a lot ongoing changes in regard to these rules. So keep an eye on legislative developments in the future as well.
Create HR Rules for Accessing Social Media Information.
After you’ve done your research, it’s time to establish basic rules when accessing employees’ social-media use. There are two general parts to these rules:
- Social-media uses prior to employment. Reports indicate that around 70% of companies “Google” potential employees before hiring them. About 61% do a social-media screening as well. They are typically looking for either no information (a major warning sign) or signs of the employee being irresponsible. We already warned about the potential issues of viewing all public information on a social media account, but in this case, recruits can reasonably expect a certain amount of scrutiny. If your business is investing in respecting privacy, then you should consider limiting these searches to confirm resume details only.
- Social-media connections after hiring. Where do you place employee rights, not only according to law but according to company policy? Are employees fully aware that you’re watching them on social media? There are circumstances where reviewing social media can be invaluable – such as when investigating an employee for lying about activities or sharing confidential information.
You Must Create Employee Rules for Using Social Media at Work.
HR rules are typically employer-focused. However, you should also consider employee-focused guidelines. Make sure everyone knows whether they can post company information on social media, and if so, specifically what. Also, specify what social media platforms can be used on break times at work (on personal accounts). Banning all social media activity is rare these days. Remember, employees can act as valuable brand ambassadors. Yet, for this to be effective, you should have specific guidelines in place in a formal written policy.
Provide Professional Alternatives.
Your employees need a place to exchange information and communicate with clients (and each other) at work. Some companies say, “All right, you can use LinkedIn for communications, and here’s how.” Other companies set up a more private social network and instead, say, “All right, we’re using Yammer (or other professional social tool) to talk between ourselves and plan out projects. Don’t use anything else for these purposes.”
Either way, it’s important to give employees vehicles to communicate in a professional environment. Otherwise, you’ll restrict their productivity. (Obviously, this can vary by industry and trade. But, as social communication becomes more ingrained in society, it affects nearly every job, today).
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes.
We started by saying that social media is always changing, and we’ll end with this reminder: It’s tough to predict just how tomorrow’s employees will use social media, or what new platforms they’ll adopt. Social media policies must be reviewed at frequent intervals, and compared to the currantlandscape of social behavior. Certain policies should be phased out, and new guidelines adopted based on risks and productivity data.
Have concerns? We can help. Cohn Consulting Corporation provides data and IT security services to companies in city. Let’s talk about your concerns. Contact us at (770) 321-5532 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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