Social Media Employment Policy Templates

April 2016

Just when you thought it was safe to let your employees click on Chrome, along came another distraction. Social media is something of a thorn in the side for employers. It’s everywhere. It’s on the desktop, it’s on every web page – be it serious or frivolous – it’s in the pocket of everyone on your payroll (apart from Phyllis in sales who still clutches tightly to her Nokia 3210). What’s more, it’s probably in your marketing department too.

Like it or loathe it, there’s one certainty when it comes to social media in the workplace – you simply can’t afford to ignore it – and striking a balance is of the utmost importance.

This month sees the introduction of new Social Media Policy content to the Simply-Docs portfolio. A standalone policy, an update to our existing Communications, Email & Internet Policy, and a new variant of the same, have been designed to help you lay down vital ground rules governing your employees’ use of social media at work.

Sometimes, the easiest option is to impose a blanket ban; but this may not always be necessary or even possible. Keeping the HR staff off of Twitter outside of lunchtime is one thing, but what about your recruitment manager who needs to do a little research on job candidates’ LinkedIn and Facebook profiles? Sure, your IT staff need Pinterest and Tumblr like holes in the head, but your SEO guy wants to diversify and try out some new promoted tweets and knows someone in marketing who has suggested that regular Instagram posts from the breakroom will show the “human” side of your business. Then there’s the head of sales that steps out into the car park for a crafty cigarette on her break (in strict compliance with your No Smoking Policy, of course) and likes to check Facebook on her iPhone using the company Wi-Fi. The combination of valuable time, valuable marketing tools, not to mention valuable bandwidth can be a lot to manage.

The importance of addressing social media use in your employment policies, then, is vital. Our new Social Media Policy templates address a wide range of factors relating to employees’ use of social media. Options make it easy to allow, restrict or ban personal use including, if desired, the use of social media on employees’ own devices during working hours, whether on your internet connection or otherwise.

Acceptable as well as unacceptable and prohibited use of social media is addressed, setting out vital guidance for employees on their conduct on social media – whether inside work our outside – along with the less than pleasant, but sometimes necessary elephant in the room: monitoring.

Use of social media for business purposes is also carefully regulated to ensure that only those authorised to represent the business online do so, and take great care with the image and reputation of the business in the process. Even those businesses with a desire to appear carefree and cuddly (cue the ukulele music) must in reality take great care with social media marketing – a tweet to a customer that may appear perfectly innocent could do considerable damage if it is taken the wrong way or contains incorrect or misleading information. Responsibility and authorisation from upper levels must therefore be taken seriously.

Once upon a time, it was easy to add a short list of URLs to your blocking software and all would be well. Now, however, social media in the workplace is a far more complicated animal and it must be treated accordingly. Don’t delay – get a Social Media Policy in place today!

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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