Like Us on Facebook? How a Social Media Policy Can Save Your Business
In these days of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Instagram, the things your employees are saying about you on social media can have a major impact on what people think of your business, and the reputation you have in the marketplace.
Whilst no employer could hope to control an employee's every thought and action, you can provide them with clear guidelines as to your expectations in regard to what, and when, they post on social media ..... as well as any possible consequences that can arise from their actions.
Fair Work Australia is hearing an increasing number of cases concerning the use, and some would say abuse, of social media. Some of these cases highlight the consequences of employees posting inappropriate comments while others show how social media can be used in disputes between an employee and employer. For example:
- An employee posted a particularly scornful blog entry on her MySpace page following a workplace investigation into her allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. Her failure to remove the entry, after a request by her employer, was found to be a valid reason for her termination.
- An employee posted a Facebook status littered with profanities directed at his employer's payroll staff after they paid him an incorrect sum of wages. It was found that the manner in which he dealt with the issue warranted his dismissal for misconduct.
- Facebook photographs of an employee partying on New Year's Eve, after applying for sick leave, were found to be sufficient evidence to support his dismissal.
- As an employer, a policy that clearly sets out your expectations of employees in regard to social media can protect both your business and your staff. If you are still unsure, or if you simply 'haven't found the time' to think about a social media policy yet, consider the following:
1. It will minimise your exposure as a business to discrimination claims, unfair dismissal and bullying and harassment claims;
2. It can minimise your exposure to reputational damage caused by employee posts; and,
3. It can optimise the value of social media in your workplace, without losing productivity.
We'd love to hear examples of how social media usage by employees or specific posts have impacted on your business. Start the conversation - share your stories and any challenges you may have faced!
For advice or assistance with drafting an effective social media policy in your workplace, and how to enforce it, contact Coleman Greig Lawyers at www.colemangreig.com.au.