Maybe you haven’t encountered any problems with employee posts on Facebook, MySpace and the like. The question is: Should you wait till you have a problem?
Consider the numbers — and the odds that your organization will have a problem:
- About half of all adults in the U.S. have a Facebook or MySpace account.
- The number of people using Twitter has grown by 1,300% in the past 12 months.
So it’s a pretty good bet that some of your employees using those sites at some time or another, and for who-knows-what.
Further, a study by Deloitte of 2,000 workers nationwide showed:
- 74% of employees who responded said they were aware that such sites make it “easier” to damage an employer’s reputation.
- 53% said their networking pages weren’t an employer’s business; that number rose to 63% for employees in the 18-to-34 age bracket.
- 17% said their companies had policies regarding posts to social-networking sites.
It’s another matter altogether whether you have the time and resources to monitor employee activity — at work or at home — on such sites and how postings might affect your company’s reputation.
Still, you can have in place a simple policy that gives you the authority to take steps should you somehow uncover a damaging entry. And having a policy removes the “I didn’t know” excuse if an employee does post something damaging.
So, what should a policy look like? Generally, the less complicated the better. In fact, yours can boil down to two main parts:
- Establish that employees have no right to absolute privacy when they post on a social-networking site. And it doesn’t matter where they connect from. If it’s on the site, it can be read. And it can be used as grounds to discipline an employee.
- Remind them that the policy extends to instances of harassment, discrimination and any other behaviors that are barred by law or company policy.
Don’t forget to note that the company has no desire to play Internet cop or keep employees from enjoying social-networking sites. The policy is in place to protect the company and its employees, not to prevent people from using the Web sites in usual, harmless ways.
Here’s an example of one company social-networking policy.