The Importance of Social Media and Social Business Policies
By Karen J. Bannan
A recent news report detailed a revised social media policy implemented by the Kansas state Board of Regents. The policy states that the employer – in this case the local university – can now suspend or fire an employee if their statements made on social media are viewed as “contrary to the best interests of the employer.” The policy was reviewed by the state’s attorney general and was approved.
While this policy may seem harsh or, as many opponents of the policy have stated, appear to violate the First Amendment, it’s only one in a number of very public steps that public and private sector employers are taking to protect their reputations and bottom lines. It’s also in line with metrics from the latest survey released by Proskauer Rose LLP, Social Media in the Workplace Around the World 3.0.
According to the report, there has been a “marked increase in the number of businesses that have implemented social media policies.” This may be because nearly 90 percent of the 110 respondents say they now use social media for business purposes or the fact that a whopping 70 percent also reported taking disciplinary action against social media misuse in the office. This is up 100 percent from the previous survey when only 35 percent said the same.
The law firm suggests employers take five steps to protect themselves from social media – and, one would assume – social business misuse, according to the report:
Perform annual audits. Companies should make sure their policies comply with legal requirements and laws
Make training a priority. Employees can’t follow rules they don’t know about. Training “reduces the risk of misuse.”
Identify speciﬁc risks. Every business faces risks that are unique to their particular industry or sector. Figure out which risks apply to you – misuse of confidential information or misrepresentation of company ideals, for instance – and put policies into place to deal with them specifically.
Implement clear guidelines. Employees need to know what is and isn’t acceptable, so put it in writing.
Consider former employees. Only 17 percent of respondents said they have a policy in place that protects them from misuse by ex-employees, but 13 percent of all misuse was by previous employees. You may want to put a policy into place that protects your company even after an employee has left.