Social media in the workplace: Employers’ friend or foe?
I read a story this week about an employee who had inadvertently sent a topless photo (intended for her boyfriend) to her boss via snapchat. After my initial amusement, I got to thinking about the role of social media at work. And the potential perils of getting it wrong.
Social media clearly has a pivotal role to play in the way we communicate today. Employers too are increasingly harnessing the power of social media to support and communicate their organisational objectives. From recruiting new staff, to internal communications, from product promotion to dealing with customer complaints, social media is essential to every day business. But when it comes to social media at work, its clear there’s a fine line to tread.
Social media by its very nature is intended to be social and when it’s done right, it can have a positive impact in the workplace. But as an employer, what do you do when social media goes wrong and threatens your business? Some potential risks include;
- Inappropriate posts on social media that could lead to bad press for your organisation.
- Excessive use of social media by staff during work hours resulting in reduced productivity.
- Revealing sensitive or confidential company information online.
- Don’t forget that from a legal perspective, a post or tweet is no different from an email or any other electronic content. If legal issues arise, social media posts can be held against you.
- Positive employee feedback about your business can be a great way to promote your organisation but what happens when employees use social media to bash your company? Negative comments online can be destructive and damaging to your reputation.
So what can you do to get the most from social media whilst still protecting your organisation?
Take time to implement a detailed and effective social media policy. Share this with your employees and be sure that you set guidelines for best practice. It’s important to get the balance right and make a clear distinction between employees’ private and professional lives – including what it and isn’t acceptable. Ensure that your people are able to share appropriate content and have the flexibility to express themselves but in a way that does not compromise your organisation.
Social media is about more than just funny cat videos. It has the ability to increase your brand presence, drive sales and support customer engagement. It’s a valuable business tool. So, a well thought out policy is a must and can help make sure you’re always “Liked”.