Social Media For Employers – Part Two: Managing Your Social Media Risks

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This is the second in a five-part blog series designed to help employers understand, and then manage, their Social Media Risks.  The other blogs in the series are:

Social Media for Employers – Part One: What are Your Risks?

Social Media for Employers – Part Three: Drafting a Social Media Policy

Social Media for Employers – Part Four: Things Staff Should Do

Social Media for Employers – Part Five: Things Staff Shouldn’t Do

In Part One of this series we outlined 10 social media risk scenarios that employers may face.   If you haven’t read this post it’s worth going back and checking it out because it sets the context for this blog.

The bottom line is social media is here to stay and employers who ignore it, and the implications that it has for their organisations, are simply sticking their collective heads in the sand.

So the burning question is “How do employers manage their social media risk?” Draft a social media policy we hear you say!  If only life was so easy!

The concept of a stand alone “Social Media Policy” is actually a misnomer.

As illustrated in Part One of this blog series, implementing a social media policy will not mitigate an employer’s risk on its own.  To be effective a social media policy must be part of a coordinated and properly documented human resources management strategy.

Let’s take this concept a little further.  Take a simple example – an employee posts a negative comment about your company, and a manager, on their Facebook page. In this situation, the employer’s first line of defence may be a well drafted Employment Contract which includes non-disparagement clause and highlights the types of behaviours which may lead to summary dismissal.

The employer’s position could then be further strengthened by having:

  • A clearly defined Internal Grievance Procedures Policy (which the employee didn’t use);
  • A Social Media – Personal Usage Policy which refers back to the employment contract and reiterates the fact that posting negative comments about the organisation and work colleagues is not acceptable behavior;
  • An Internal Training Program which covers personal usage of social media;
  • Robust Record Keeping Procedures to demonstrate staff training in the organisations policies and the employee’s knowledge of these policies; and
  • Discipline and Termination Procedures to ensure that when the social media event occurs, management is well versed to manage the situation following principles of substantive and procedure fairness.

As the types of social media risks vary, so do the strategies for mitigating these risks (refer to the 10 social media risk scenarios in Part One).

Other documents, programs, policies and procedures which may come into play include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Anti-Bullying & Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policies;
  • Staff Performance & Development Review Programs;
  • Recruitment & Selection Procedures;
  • Privacy Policies;
  • Information Security Policies;
  • Email and Internet Usage Policies;
  • Confidentiality Agreements; and
  • Complaints Handling Programs designed to efficiently capture and resolve customer complaints before they hit social media forums (refer to our recent blog Why You Should Be Encouraging Your Customers to Complain About You!)

In summary, if you are serious about managing social medial risks in your organisation, you must get serious about developing a co-ordinated human resources management strategy which not only includes documented policies and procedures but also an internal training program and robust record keeping procedures.

How Can CompliSpace Help?

CompliSpace delivers a series of enhanced Social Media policies and online training courses as part of our comprehensive suite of online human resources programs, policies and procedures.  These are not template documents but rather policies and procedures that are specifically designed to be tailored to the needs of your organisation and integrated with other online content modules. For more information please visit www.complispace.com.au or contact us on +61 2 9299 6105 or contactus@complispace.com.au

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