Social Media Policies: How Updating Your Employee Handbook Can Preserve Your Brand Reputation
If you’re a business owner or work in human resources, should you have a company social media policy in place? If you have employees or are ever planning to have them, the answer is “yes.” Think about a social media policy as the ice cream in a sundae—not as a topping. Since social media has become widely used and commonplace—even in the workplace—the complexities associated it with have increased over time.
Maybe a decade ago, social media guidelines in the workplace would be considered more like sprinkles, butterscotch, or whipped cream. Now, they are a necessity (ice cream).
A company social media policy not only clearly defines conduct expectations of your company and its workers, but it can also protect you from potential legal complications involving employees.
Five Key Items to Include in Your Social Media Policy for Employees
Can an employee be fired for compromising the company’s brand reputation? It depends. While employees do not have an open invitation to slam their employer on social media, “concerted activity” is protected by federal labor law. Concerted activity refers to coworkers engaging with one another (including on social media) regarding working conditions, management, and pay rates.
One way to protect yourself as an HR director or company owner is to update your employee handbook to include social media policies. Before drafting a social media policy, it’s best to consider this guidance set forth by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):
- “Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.”
What then, can and should your policy contain? According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), some well-written social media policy examples include the following key elements:
- Employees will not attribute their views and actions as representative of the company they work for (unless given permission).
- Employees who share about the industry they work in will add a disclaimer or preface that their personal views are not representative of their employer.
- Employees will refrain from posting any proprietary or confidential company information (including intel about customers, vendors, etc.).
- Employees are prohibited from posting threatening, bullying, harassing, or defamatory content—including but not limited to race, gender, disability, religion—considered to contribute to a hostile work environment.
- Employees agree to have their social media scanned occasionally.
Online Reputation Management Adds Protection Your Company Needs
You may have noticed No. 5 in the list above mentions employees consenting to a social media scan. A third-party vendor that offers online reputation management not only saves time by eliminating hours of manually scanning social media accounts, it adds a layer of legal protection. But, make sure the company you partner with is compliant with both the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines.
In addition to being EEOC and FCRA compliant, LifeBrand routinely helps companies flag social media accounts for harmful content—100,000-plus scans and counting.