Social media and the workplace hit the headlines again.Although the big story has been Paris Brown losing her job within days of taking up her new post, of far more concern than a 15/16 year olds misjudged comments, is the fact that the Met have revealed that they have investigated 75 police staff over misuse of social media since 2009. This has been closely followed by an incident of a police officer being disciplined for tweeting distasteful comments about Thatcher’s death this week.
It all shows how easy it is for lines to be blurred when using social media. Work and home lives are becoming far more intertwined; when and where is it OK to voice personal opinions for example? Is a personal blog different to a company blog? And what might be acceptable in one organisation may not be in another.
A large proportion of employees don’t even know their company has a policy on internet use... and often if they do know a policy exists they have never read it or don’t really understand what it means to them.
A couple of points to consider...
- Ensure your policy is specific rather than couched in general blanket terms... eg instead of asking people not to disclose confidential information, offer some examples of what confidential information might be. Do guidelines on making comments about the company or fellow employees extend to personal tweeting/blogging/facebook?
- Get teams and departments talking the policy through, so that they can clarify and discuss how it might affect their particular role
- Ensure your managers are confident in implementing the policy... if they are not sure where the lines are, they will not be able to step in and deal with any possible breach
Having a policy on social media use is only the first step; giving employees a chance to question, discuss and understand it is the far more powerful step and will minimise the sort of time consuming investigations, which the Met have had to instigate.