Ugh! Why is there no one with common sense in my office? Say this to your spouse and it’s run-of-the-mill venting. Tweet it or post it on Facebook and you may just get fired.
Welcome to the minefield of social media!
Employees and employers alike are confused about what’s OK and what’s not in cyberspace. Some clarity may be coming, in the form of a few high-profile, highly anticipated court rulings, but it won’t be enough to clear all the gray areas.
Here’s what you need to know both as an employee held to social media policies and a manager expected to enforce them.
Chances are, someone’s taking a look at what your workforce is saying online. Check out the results of a recent survey:
- Almost one in four companies say they regularly monitor what their people post on social media sites, and
- Another third say they investigate if someone raises a concern.
And while your company, like most organizations, has probably started to create policies governing what employees can and can’t do on the clock as far as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the bigger problem remains:
What about after-hours? Or when employees post questionable comments via their personally owned smartphones?
That’s a lot tougher to regulate. And you, as a supervisor, get caught on both sides of the fence.
So what’s the best course of action? Admittedly, companies are going to be feeling their way through this for quite some time. But in the meantime:
- Get a feel for where your company stands on the subject. Some businesses actually encourage their people to use social media as a way to generate good buzz for their companies. (Granted these workplaces are probably pretty confident their employees will have nothing negative to say.) Most companies, however, will have some boundaries as far as what’s OK for their staffers to post. Of course blowing off steam in the form of “My boss is a jerk!” is a lot different than leaking info about an upcoming layoff for example. So companies may have a difference tolerance for different types of e-transgressions. Worth feeling that out.
- Encourage (and use) common sense. Just like parents who warn their kids not to post anything they wouldn’t want them or a college recruiter to see, encourage staffers to adopt a similar outlook. Yes, we live in a country where we are guaranteed free speech. But a little common sense and professionalism goes a long way. Tell folks they can go home and tell their spouses all about what a jerk you are … in person!
Last year, one in five companies disciplined an employee for violating their corporate social media policy. (That’s a 100% increase over two years prior.)
That’s of the companies that have a policy.