The Use of Social Media in the Workplace
Anyone who has returned from holiday to find hundreds of unread emails waiting for them could be forgiven for thinking digital technologies are the enemy. Digital technologies can hold the key to effective engagement; they just need to be used better.
The use of social media can break down the imaginary barriers between departments by providing employees with opportunities to share information, build off each others’ knowledge and find solutions to problems. They help us to work more flexibly, stay in touch for longer and respond to each other quicker.
But it is not all good news. The misuse of the internet and social media by workers costs Britain’s economy millions of pounds resulting in many employers grappling with issues like defamation, cyber bullying, freedom of speech and the invasion of privacy.
When considering integrating social media into your workplace, it’s important to understand the potential risks:
- The possibility for hackers to commit fraud and launch spam and virus attacks.
- People falling victim to online scams that seem genuine, may result in data or identity theft or a compromise of the company’s computer security.
- A potential platform for employees to vent about clients or the organisation.
- Legal consequences if employees use these sites to view or distribute objectionable, illicit or offensive material.
Once you understand the risks, you can take steps to alleviate them and allow your company to experience the benefits of social media in the workplace.
It is crucial for employers to develop clear policies and to monitor social media usage. By providing clear guidelines on what is appropriate use, employees can have clarity and reference as needed.
Key points to consider:
- Set out in writing what is regarded as acceptable behaviour in the use of social media at work and what is not acceptable.
- Make a distinction between business and private use of social media throughout the policy. If your organisation allows limited private use in the workplace, be clear what this actually means in practice.
- Consult with your staff if you are planning to monitor social media activity in the workplace.
- Update additional policies: a policy on bullying should include references to ‘cyber bullying’.
- Be ready to adapt: make sure it is written in a way that can accommodate alterations so it keeps up with the continuing progression of social media.
Social media policies, if developed well, can support, empower and engage your staff. Please contact us if you require help to write a policy appropriate for your business.
Game Retail Ltd v Laws: Misuse of Twitter by an employee.
The claimant was dismissed after it was found that he tweeted offensive posts. Mr Law’s followed the Twitter accounts of approximately 100 Game stores and was followed by around 65 stores. The employer concluded that the tweets amounted to gross misconduct as they were in the public domain and could be seen by his colleagues.
Barbulescu v Romania: Social media monitoring.
The claimant was dismissed for using Yahoo Messenger to send personal messages to his family, as well as professional contacts. He challenged his employer’s actions as a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
If you would like support and guidance on drafting a policy appropriate to your business or advice on any of the above issues, please contact one of the ELiAction team. Phone: 01494 817193 or Email us
For more detailed information please visit our Handbooks and Policies page.