The Department for Work and Pensions recently reported that a number of employees were either disciplined or dismissed for misusing social media.
During the rise of social media, there have been numerous debates over whether social networks should be banned in the work place, if staff have a right to access them at work, or even if their usage can actually be a benefit to business.
Charlotte Gallagher, founder and managing director of P3 People Management, has been talking to Property Aspects about the pros and cons of using social forums in the workplace and more importantly, what to do if it’s misused.
“Social media usage in the work place is a very interesting debate and one that can only be decided on business-by-business basis. If your staff don’t need to use social websites as part of their job, then you may want to consider blocking the sites altogether. This may seem harsh, as the staff may want to use these sites during lunch hour. Then again, most have it on their phone. Unfortunately many staff do spend working time on social media sites, so a ban may be a good idea.”
“However there are benefits in staff using social media for work purposes. LinkedIn, Twitter and yes, even Facebook can all help a business in terms of marketing and communications. But, that said, staff can sometimes abuse these sites.”
How to deal with social media misuse
“The best way to deal with this is through prevention by implementing a Social Media Policy, and then communicating it to all employees. There should also be a section in your IT policy or handbook as a minimum on how the company manages social media use outside of work if it affects the company.”
Talking about some of the key points that should be addressed in a Social Media Policy, Charlotte stated: “We know that some people find Facebook very addictive, and this can lead to staff spending time on the site when they should be working. If staff are spending time during working hours, this is a conduct issue and should be dealt with informally or formally depending on the circumstances.
Staff also may spread gossip and post derogatory comments about the company or fellow employees on social media sites, as well as giving their personal opinion about the company’s products and services, which may damage the brand. This may again be a discipline issue, and should be covered in the policy.”
“Many social media users include a prominent disclaimer saying who they work for, but that they’re not speaking officially. This is good practice and should be encouraged. An example on twitter might be “Account Manager for X. Opinions expressed are my own.”
Concluding, Charlotte commented: “When drawing up a social media policy, ensure you always cover the standards expected, a note on privacy, a note on copyright law, confidential information, rules on mentioning the company on social media sites, and the consequences of failure to comply with the policy. This should help cover all the major bases.”
P3’s team of HR consultants boast a collective experience of over 55 years. Property Aspects appreciates the contribution of their Founder and Managing Director Charlotte Gallagher.
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