6 Social Media Landmines for HR Professionals to Avoid
The National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel recently released a report detailing the outcome of investigations into 14 cases involving the use of social media and employers’ social and general media policies. In releasing the document, Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon said, "I hope that this report will be of assistance to practitioners and human resource professionals."
Each case was submitted by regional offices to the NLRB’s Division of Advice in Washington, DC. In four cases involving employees’ use of Facebook, the Division found that the employees were engaged in "protected concerted activity" because they were discussing terms and conditions of employment with fellow employees. In five other cases involving Facebook or Twitter posts, the Division found that the activity was not protected.
In one case, it was determined that a union engaged in unlawful coercive conduct when it videotaped interviews with employees at a nonunion jobsite about their immigration status and posted an edited version on YouTube and the local union’s Facebook page.
In five cases, some provisions of employers’ social media policies were found to be unlawfully overly-broad. A final case involved an employer’s lawful policy restricting its employees’ contact with the media.
Organizations cannot completely avoid these situations, as behind every Facebook post or tweet, there is a person that chose to do so. However there are many tips and best practices HR professionals can implement to reduce the chance of a negative social media explosion happening in your organization.
1. Create a social media policy
Make the choice to get with the times. Social media sites are here to stay. Instead of ignoring them, one would be best to dive right in. Include social media in your organizational culture. There are a number of social media policies and guidelines available for a variety of organizations from corporations to non-profits. If the executives in your business are STILL not sold on social media, check out the Social Media Report: Q# 2011 for some outstanding statistics.
2. Learn from others
Take advice from many of the existing global organizations with social media policies in place. You can find hundreds of them here from companies such as Yahoo, American Red Cross, Coca Cola, and Microsoft.
3. Involve your team
Just as you would include your team when drafting any other policy, the same goes for social media. Make sure to include: President, CEO, HR, IT, Marketing, Legal, and any social media staff in your organization.
4. Don’t hide your head in the sand
You may be lucky and have yet to deal with any issues arising from the use of social media in the workplace, this does not mean that they will not arise in the future.
In 2011, Robert Half Technology interviewed 1400 CIOs of companies with over 100 employees. This was a follow-up to their 2009 survey.
- 31% of companies block employees from using social media while at work (down from 54% in 2009)
- 51% of companies permit access for business purposes only (up from 19% in 2009)
- 14% of companies permit access for limited personal use (down from 16% in 2009)
- 4% of companies permit any access for personal use (down from 10% in 2009)
Read the rest of the report here to learn more.
5. Communicate company-wide
Once a policy has been finalized, make sure to communicate it clearly with all employees. Ensure that each and every employee receives a copy of the policy and signs for it.
6. Mark your calendars
Make sure to revisit your policy every 6 months to ensure it is up to date. Social media is ever changing and before you know it, there will be numerous new sites and your policy is out of date.
So tell us, does your organization have a social media policy in place? What advice would you offer to HR professionals? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comment box below. Download the NLRB's Report