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shutterstock_socialmediaIt’s no a secret that social media can yield a positive internal impact; enhanced brand recognition, customer connection, information distribution and recruitment through social media avenues all add value. But, what about the social media use employers can’t control, the type that yields harmful and negative impacts on the workplace? I’m sure we all watched the Hydro One Inc. story in the press or maybe have been privy to an adverse review on Glass Door. At first instinct, reacting with disciplinary measures or even termination of an employee who’s shone a negative light on the workplace might seem like the right move. While I’d advise this approach for some extreme cases, employers need to know that when it comes to this reaction, they may run the risk of overstepping rights of free speech and expression and even privacy rights in legislation regarding how the information was obtained. It’s a fine line to walk between protecting your brand and staying within the law, so here are my 3 suggestions for employers as a first step in social media safeguarding:

1. Implement a social media policy. The policy should have a broad and flexible enough definition of social media to capture new developments or changes to public sharing platforms. It should outline what workplace information is permissible to disclose and what is not and the actions that’ll be taken by the employer if an employee is out of bounds. Other things to consider when drafting a policy: are employees allowed to post photos of the workplace and should employees be permitted to be “friends” or “connect” with clients.  
2. Educate employees on acceptable social media use. Hold a social media seminar or briefing at your office to talk about the overlap of personal vs. professional impact of content and how employees’ posts can have direct impact on company reputation. Inform staff of the policy and the company’s stance on negative social media outputs.
3. Establish ways to reasonably monitor social media use. Obtaining social media account information in an unreasonable manner (i.e. keystroke logging to gain access) is a no-no. Reasonably keep an eye out for social media misconduct and address issues in accordance to policy and immediately as they come up. An even better approach, if wrongdoing has occurred, is seeking the help of an HR Professional or getting legal advice for support.

Oftentimes, people aren’t aware of the impact public information sharing can have on both personal and public reputation; some people simply “forget their day job” when posting within social media platforms. Having a comprehensive policy and educating your staff on acceptable use is a great first step in navigating the ever-changing landscape of social media.

If your organization needs assistance with implementing social media protocols and policy, contact LVS Consulting Inc. for Human Resources advisory and consulting help.

Lauren Semancik, CHRP
Email: lauren@lvshr.com
LVS Consulting Inc.

About Lauren and LVS Consulting

LVS Consulting Inc. offers Human Resources services to a variety of clients in a range of industries. Lauren Semancik, Director of LVS, has her CHRP designation and over 12 years of HR, Marketing and Corporate Administration experience. Lauren sees the need that many small to medium-sized businesses face in terms of HR and the value she can add through implementing simple yet very effective HR solutions. From policies and procedures implementation, job description establishment to performance management – Lauren is an HR consultant you can trust.

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