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6 tips to help introduce a good Workplace Social Media Policy

We all know the importance and the possible issues arising from the use – or abuse – of social media in the workplace. In some workplaces, it is quite simple to state that the use of social media is not encouraged – for example if an employee is working on a production line, it is neither safe or appropriate to read texts and emails on a smart phone whilst working.

However, if an employee is working in a work environment that involves constant use of the internet, then the use of social media is much harder to control and to define. We outline below 6 tips to help employers when considering introducing a policy:

1)  Define What is needed and is appropriate:

Consider the organisation’s view on social media, considering both the personal and professional requirements, and the use of personal and company devices. Consider also whether this is appropriate for employees while they are in work, and possibly outside of work (for example when using Twitter). The critical issue here is the appropriate use of social media at all times, and the organisation’s guidance and requirements. If social media is not required for work, consider prohibiting the posting of work-related content on social networking sites.

2)  Provide detailed guidelines:

Employees need clear guidelines if a social media policy is to be successfully implemented and operated. Outline very clearly what is expected, and specific details of what is not allowed e.g. outline whether employees are allowed using Facebook and LinkedIn as personal/professional etc. State clearly when an employee can access social media i.e. at their break

3)  Link to other policies:

This social media policy should link with other policies with regard to disciplinary issues, grievance, and bullying and harassment. This also should link to confidentiality, intellectual property, and any other sensitive information concerning the employee’s organisation.

4)  Potential risks:

Outline the potential risks of abuse of social media – both personal and professional. If an employee tweets inappropriately, there could be major repercussions for the organisation.

5)  Ownership:

This is a very difficult area, but a social media policy should outline who owns social media content in an employee’s accounts, or details generated by the employee on social media.

6) Training:

As with all important employee policies/procedures, managers and employees should be brought through the policy and given clear details as to the consequences of abuse or inappropriate behaviour on social media.