In the fallout from the election result in the USA, we continue to witness the powerful impact that social media sites like Twitter can have on human behaviour. It is fair to say that social media is now completely intertwined with both our personal and professional lives. With remote working now the norm for a large number of employees, and with employees being less “visible” to their managers as a result, employers are spending more time than ever before dealing with staff who publish personal opinions on confidential business issues, politics or other controversial subjects online.
The resulting legal and reputational risks to the business can be huge. Social media policies are frequently put in place by employers who wish to limit their employees’ personal use of social media and to protect their business from those risks. Last month the BBC issued its staff with new guidance on their use of social media, forcing them to maintain impartiality. This follows on from a number of presenters facing criticism for sharing personal views on Twitter in recent years.
Having such guidance in place in addition to a social media policy is common for employers who wish to encourage, or indeed require, employees to actively use social media for business purposes.
However, there are a number of important issues that employers need to consider when implementing or reviewing social media policies and guidelines. Here are our five top tips for employers:
1. Ensure your social media policy, and any associated guidance, is up to date and deals with current concerns.
2. Ensure that your confidential and proprietary information is properly protected.
3. Make it clear that harassment and bullying via social media is unacceptable, to help minimise the risk of claims.
4. Train your HR team on employee monitoring and your rules relating to social media use.
5. Do not impose unnecessary restrictions which may undermine morale and actually result in non-compliance.
Our Employment team can advise you on how to implement these top tips and to minimise risk to your business. Do get in touch if you would like to discuss these issues further.