Social Media in the Workplace

In the past five years, social media has exponentially grown in popularity. With social media booming, businesses are forced to decide if they need rules and regulations on employee’s accounts, ban the accounts altogether, or allow their employees free reign.

In today’s world it is uncommon for employees to not have social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. In most cases, the employer also has some form of social media as well. Most employers recognize that it would be unreasonable for them to ask their employers to shut down their sites due to company policy, considering the amount it is used in society today. In most cases, social media is used appropriately by professional, i.e. tweeting about something fun you did that day, hobbies you might have interest in, post photos from a family vacation, keeping in touch with old friends, or as a way to organize events. Overall, companies do not mind their employees using social media to communicate. It is when employees post about inappropriate topics that is tracked back to the employer that social media becomes an issue.

Companies typically have rules set for internet use while in the workplace, as well as social media use. For some, this is important because social media is not used in the employee’s job, thus making it only a distraction from their work. However, our consultants at ORS Partners use social media every day as part of their sourcing and recruiting strategies. Without social media tools like LinkedIn and blogs, their day to day job would be completely different. For the role of the recruiter, social media is used continuously and in a positive, helpful way.

In most cases, corporate organizations have established social media policies that not only protect the company, but the employees, clients, and prospective employees. In fact it is becoming necessary to have social media policies, as companies without social media policies have been sued for firing employees for negative content displayed on their social media accounts. In most cases (not all), an employee cannot be fired for inappropriate comments on their social media sites without the company having set, written rules in their code of conduct policy and practices. An example of this is an HR manager who was fired for sending private messages to the president’s wife through Facebook criticizing the president. The Fair Work Commission found that the communication did not break any rules the company had on their social media policy because although it was through Facebook, it was a private message.

Overall, it is best to keep your social media accounts private and only accept people that you personally know. Keep in mind not to post anything that you would not say to someone in person. A great tip to follow is think about your boss viewing every tweet, Facebook post, and Instagram photo you’ll post. With this mindset you will free yourself from any social media problems that could occur.