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Social Media in the Workplace: When and How to Use It

by Amie Remington, Esq., on April 06, 2018

Social media has saturated our daily lives in a variety of ways, including our working lives. As an employer, the question you may have is, what qualifies as the appropriate use of social media in the workplace?

Social media can certainly enhance your business in today's competitive online business environment. But it can also destroy your company's reputation if it's abused. We've compiled a guide for using social media platforms for both business and recreation within your organization.

Let's get started!

Benefits of Allowing Social Media in the Workplace
Whether to allow social media in the workplace -- and how much to allow it -- can be complicated. In some ways, you may be tempted to ban it altogether. But if you do that, you're selling your company short.

With social media, clients can interact and connect with your organization more personally. If your brand is already established, you can further develop it on a social networking platform to draw in new customers.

At the same time, social media can help to improve the quality of your employees' working lives. After all, research shows that the top reason workers get onto social media while in the workplace is to enjoy mental breaks.

Using Social Media for Business
Here are a few things you need to know about the use of social media for business purposes. First, request your workers to receive permission from partners and clients before they publish any parties' names on social media.

Likewise, your employees need to respect copyright law by giving credit to all organizations whose content the use. In addition, let's say an employee, Mark, is writing a blog about your company. It's critical that Mark discloses his identity and is transparent about his role at your organization. Mark also should stick with his expertise and skill area. He is representing your organization after all.

Finally, let your employees know that representatives of the media may approach them while they are doing business-related tasks on social media. If this happens, your workers should know to notify a particular professional in your organization. This professional can then instruct them how to handle these journalists' inquiries and requests for information.

Using Social Media for Recreation
As we mentioned earlier, it's not uncommon for employees to use social media as a mental escape from a busy workday. In light of this, here are some guidelines they should follow when using social media platforms for recreational purposes.

One of the smartest moves your employees can make is to make use of privacy settings on social media. These settings can limit who reads an employee's posts and accesses his or her personal information. This is critical since employees who reveal their personal information on social media make your organization more vulnerable to identity thieves, spam, and pranks.

Also, it may be in your organization's best interest to discourage employees and supervisors from becoming friends on Facebook. If Mark and Daniel link up on Facebook, they may end up learning quite a bit about the other party -- maybe a little too much.

This is all information they may have never known outside of social media -- which isn't exactly a bad thing. In other words, ignorance is bliss. The problem with this information is that it may lead to harassment and discrimination allegations involving two employees. This is particularly the case if one employee supervises or managers the other one.

All of this can destroy employee morale and reflect badly on your organization both internally and externally -- the exact opposite of what you want.

When the Lines Become Blurred
So, how do you deal with social media in the workplace when the lines between business usage and recreational usage become blurry?

For starters, recommend your workers to maintain separate professional and personal social media accounts. It's wise for your workers to assume that your company's clients may read the information they include on a personal account.

Also, encourage your workers to think twice before posting something or sharing information. If they don't, they may end up revealing proprietary or confidential company information. In some cases, this might violate an existing non-disclosure agreement. In other cases, an employee might engage in a discussion that may tarnish the company's image.

Creating a Social Media Policy
It's not enough to encourage your employees to make smart choices regarding the usage of social media in the workplace. You need to put your guidelines in writing, too.

Keep the tone of your policy positive. How? By not giving too much attention to misconduct-related disciplinary action. Your goal is to establish trust, not demotivate, your team.

You don't necessarily need to prohibit social media use on the job. Your workers should simply use it in a limited fashion, similarly to their personal internet and telephone use. If they're "on the clock," they should be primarily focused on company business.

How We Can Help
LandrumHR offers a full HR team that is ready to handle your payroll, 401(k), health insurance and even workers' compensation functions. We'll also cover you in the areas of training, recruiting and legal compliance.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help the HR side of your business to operate more efficiently and effectively this year.

Amie Remington, Esq.

As General Counsel of LandrumHR, Amie advises on all business and employment-related legal issues. She is also a regular speaker at national and state-wide events, discussing all aspects of employment law that affect all employers, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the state counterparts to these laws. Before joining LandrumHR, Amie was a partner in the law firm of Bozeman, Jenkins & Matthews, P.A., where she represented employers, management and the State of Florida in all types of employment-related matters. At the firm, Amie focused on policy creation, prevention of discrimination and harassment and management education and training, as well as all aspects of employment litigation, including trial and appeal work.

View more blogs by Amie Remington, Esq.