Social media is becoming increasingly useful in the workplace as many employers find it to be an effective means of communication and promotion of their company. Despite its potential effectiveness in business development, social media can cause damage to employer reputation if used incorrectly or recklessly.
For example, when employees get frustrated with a problem at work, they may turn to their personal social media account to express their views on the situation and post negatively about the company resulting in a negative perception of the company.
Alternatively, employees may post comments or photos on their personal account which could identify them as an employee of a company. This can potentially affect a company’s public reputation, especially if there is evidence of excessive drinking, or the use of racist, homophobic or sexist language on their profile which people may then associate with the company.
In recent years there have been an increasing number of high profile cases about social media both in and out of the workplace (for example Danny Baker’s removal from the BBC following his tweet on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby) and the use of social media during the recruitment process.
On the face of it, social media can give rise to a vast amount of problems and can seem daunting. However, these problems can be tackled through:
- A clear social media policy and guidelines, setting out what is and is not acceptable behaviour as well as usage of social media
- A clear and fair disciplinary procedure which is applied fairly and consistently.
It is essential that employers develop policies that make it clear to employees that certain types of activities could lead to disciplinary action. Consequently, the policy will need to dovetail in to your various other policies, such as disciplinary and anti-harassment and bullying policies.
By providing a framework for employees to work within which applied fairly and consistently, you create a much more positive experience which will allow your company to engage with and benefit from the positives of social media. Additionally, you diminish the likelihood of claims for bullying, harassment, unfair and/or constructive dismissal.
Finally, whilst there is no legislation that states organisations cannot review an individual’s social media page, we would advise a cautioned approach to this. Unless there is glaringly obvious, individuals may allege that they had a good CV and background and that the reason was because the employer did not like what they saw and rely on a protected characteristic (age, sex, religion etc) to bring a discrimination claim. Therefore, guidance on such use should be covered in recruitment policies and, yes, any data protection policy/statement.
If you need help with creating or reviewing a social media policy, please contact one of our team.
For more information check out this article from People Management: The dos and don't of social media at work.