While more than half of CIOs report completely restricting their employees from accessing social media sites during work hours, there has been at the same time a general rise in social media use at offices. Such an apparent contradiction can result in confusion and even anger at the workplace, particularly for new hires who could visit social media sites at a previous job but now encounter restricted or no availability at all for those sites at their new positions.
To add to the dilemma, how can an organization forbidding social media activity monitor employees who partake of them on their personal mobile devices? It is a growing concern among owners and operators of businesses in all sizes, and unfortunately, according to the latest word from the American Bar Association, it is still unclear legally how much control employers can exert over their employees.
Yet there are some basic measures you can take, if you feel uncomfortable about an outright social media ban yet do not want your employees to spend an excessive amount of time updating their status on Facebook, Twitter and the like. They include the following:
- Inform employees that the terms of your company’s equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment and other policies extend to social media use at work as well. They do not have a license to blog on whatever they feel like on your company time.
- Review with your employees the fact that commenting about legal matters or litigation involving your organization via social media is not allowed. The same rule applies to any work-related grievances.
- Encourage employees to ask questions and discuss issues with their supervisors regarding whether their social media activity may affect their workplace. This dialogue can help them realize the differences between their personal opinions and the positions taken by your organization, and why it is essential to separate them.
- Remind them that the Internet is permanent, even if they “remove/delete” the comment later or attempt to make it anonymous. They should know they can be held personally responsible for any content you post online. That warning alone may curtail them from extraneous social media activity.
- Employees should know they can be held legally liable for anything they write or present online. That includes, but is not limited to, commentary, content, or images judged defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous, or creating a hostile work environment.
For more details on how you can establish social media use policies for your employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.
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