If faced with concerns that an employee’s use of social media is potentially damaging to your company’s reputation, how should you respond? Recent cases provide some important lessons on how to respond to social media concerns and ensure your decisions are fair and reasonable.
1) Have a Social Media policy which:
- Is a best fit for your business.
- Sets out clear guidelines outlining what is acceptable and unacceptable during work and personal time.
- Clearly outlines that personal use impacting upon the business and its reputation can be considered gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.
- Cross reference with your disciplinary policy, equal opportunities policy and harassment policy to ensure a consistent message.
2) Encourage employees to use their Twitter privacy settings – they have a right to freedom of expression as long as their actions do not have a detrimental impact upon the business and its reputation.
3) Provide induction training and manager training on the Social Media policy, the consequences and possible action taken if misuse occurs.
4) Include a term in your contract of employment allowing you to monitor use of social media enabling you to enforce the policy.
5) When investigating the issue, ensure you have evidence of the comments made. Determine if the comments posted have any connection to the workplace and what audience group could view them.
6) When deciding upon appropriate action to take consider the complaint received and whether it is from a colleague or the public. Is the reputational risk to the business and/or customer relationships actual or theoretical? Consider the seriousness of the nature of the comments made and whether instructing the employee to remove the relevant post is an appropriate informal response to the issue.
For assistance in drawing up social media policies and implementing best practice contact Anita Wynne at Beststart HR on firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 01438 747 747.