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Blog - Social Media – Are your lines blurred? by Tracy Powley

Social Media – Are your lines blurred? by Tracy Powley

Posted by Tracy Powley 19/04/13

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.

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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