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Social Media Use in the Workplace—4 Do's and 4 Don'ts

Social media can be a double-edged sword.

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Love it or hate it, people are not going to stop using social media anytime soon.

According to a study published by Statista, 77 percent of U.S. population has a social media profile in 2018, down from 80 percent in 2017. That’s a huge percentage of the population, and it’s a similar case for other parts of the world.

Unemployment lawyer Abraham Mathew advises all companies to draft rules and policies that would regulate social media use. He argues that small steps taken right now would save loads of money and time spent in litigation in the future.

Do’s:

Implement a social media policy.

A sound social media policy for employees would aid the employer in managing employee social media use. This would help limit the company’s exposure to potentially costly legal problems. Another great benefit to having a company social media policy is empowering employees with the direction they need to use social media outlets in a responsible manner. Social media policies are going to be developed differently depending on the type of business. For example, an advertising company would definitely utilize social media a lot more than an engineering firm.

Ensure NLRA compliance.

A mere company social media policy does not automatically achieve compliance with the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act). As a response to multiple cases of disciplinary actions by employers for employee social media use, the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), the agency that enforces NLRA rules, issued three memorandums that inscribed cases relating to social media use in the workplace, the lawfulness of social media policies enforced by employers, and the nature of employees’ social media posts. Companies are highly advised to regularly update their social media policies to ensure compliance with the NLRA.

Train employees on the policy and maintain adequate records.

With a good social media policy in place, employers must provide a formal training to their employees to educate and train them. This will ensure the clear responsibilities of all parties involved and would leave no doubt as to what consequences are in place for violating the company policy. Companies should also maintain signed records from the employees that went through the training. This also serves as a validation to governing bodies that the company is in full compliance with all necessary regulations.

Train employees on the harms of social media if used incorrectly.

One small post or comment by an employee going viral online could have a tremendous effect on both the employee and the company if it contained a provocative, negative, or inflammatory element. That’s why as part of the policy training conducted by the company, there should also be a training on the potential harms of social media on a company’s image.

Don’ts:

Fail to designate an official contact person for social media policy.

Even with all the training and systems in place, employers must consider appointing an official compliance officer for their social media policy. This will provide a direct communications line for any employee that might have a question or suggestion. Additionally, this further strengthens the consistency of the company’s social media policy.

Enforce the policies inconsistently.

To ensure a healthy working environment, companies must be consistent in enforcing all disciplinary measures including social media policies. This would largely benefit both the company and the employees in the long run should any issue arise and litigation is sought after.

Allow any incorrect, confidential, or non-public content to be posted by employees.

The company’s social media policy should strictly prohibit any incorrect, confidential, or non-public material to be posted by employees. Whether the material was concerning the company or a client, actions of this nature must be banned. Setting clear rules from the beginning would better educate employees, and help employers enforce rules when it’s necessary.

Allow employees to give advice to clients on social media platforms.

Companies must strive to ensure a consistent image and reputation across all platforms. Employees must not be allowed to give any sort of advice to clients through social media channels. Instead, an official position, such as a social media manager, should be in place. A social media manager would be responsible for maintaining the company’s image online, and any questions received should be directed to them to provide professional and accurate information.

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