Social media networking is here to stay. How far can employers go to guide employees' social networking activities while at work?
Here are 9 social networking rules for employers. If followed, they will enable you and your employees to enjoy social media without stress and out-of-control risks:
- Develop a policy - employees have privacy rights, but employers have rights too. Create reasonable policies by developing acceptable and unacceptable networking behaviour.
- Set boundaries - employees need practical guidelines to help minimize harmful activities. Tell employees, nicely but firmly, what you expect.
- Communicate! Assure employees that social networking can be fulfilling, but thoughtlessly using the Internet for social networking can cause serious harm to the company and our jobs.
- Monitor - this is a must, and should be a non-issue. Ignorance is not bliss and is not a legal defence.
- Decide how to monitor in the least intrusive way. Overly intrusive methods will cause offence. Gather only related work-related information.
- Consent - it's not necessary for employees to consent in writing to privacy expectations. But written consent - ideally in a letter offering employment - is easier to obtain and prove in case of a dispute. It also alerts new employees of your policy on day one. For existing employees, consent typically starts with an electronically and physically posted message to employees, announcing a policy change on a specific date for all employees. Employees who continue working after the effective date of the change have implied their consent. Good communication is always important.
- Be prepared - know and respect applicable law. If in doubt, check with your lawyer.
- Act - do not delay. If you find risky material, act immediately. It is also important to determine who is at fault and, what action is appropriate.
- Be actively vigilant. Remain diligent, aware and safe and secure in protecting your business, your fine reputation, your employees and their morale.
This is an edited version of an article by Gene Connors from Workforce Management Online