With the rise of mobile and social media within companies, between employees, and in general, employers need to be proactive about setting up policies to leverage the opportunities presented by increased connectivity and to avoid potential problems.
When preparing a social media and mobile communication policy for your employees, consider the following best practices.
Outline your company's goals with respect to the policy
Make sure employees understand why the policy exists. Use positive language and framing to tell employees that the policy exists for their own and the company's protection, and that it is not result of a lack of trust. Making the policy's implementation a positive experience will make employees more likely to want to comply.
Establish specific, easy-to-understand guidelines
As you draft your policy, use clear language that the average employee in your organization will understand. Cite specific examples of prohibited conduct to avoid confusion as to what constitutes unacceptable behavior. For instance, state how the policy is meant to prevent discrimination, harassment, and the disclosure of proprietary information. Similarly, provide examples of your company's preferred tone of voice and guidelines for grammar to ensure your employees represent the brand accordingly when talking about the company.
Images are worth 1,000 words
Employees may want to text images of the office to their friends, tag their colleagues in photos, or upload pictures of happy hour to their Twitter or Facebook account. Ensure that employees know which images are safe to share and which are not. Include visual examples of approved or unapproved images, and encourage employees to ask a manager if they are unsure whether an image can be shared. For example, some companies have strict policies about staff members appearing in bars or with a drink in hand while wearing the company logo.
Nothing is off the record
Remind employees that, in today's digital world, nothing is off the record. Anything from a tweet to a text can be shared in seconds. Even if employees' social profiles aren't linked to the company, an employee is always a representative of the company and therefore should not be sharing anything they wouldn't want an employer or client to see.
Be mindful of the National Labor Relations Act and other laws
Make sure that your policy does not violate the NLRA, the federal law that protects employees' right to engage in "concerted activities," including discussing the terms and conditions of their employment. For more information regarding the intersection of social media policies and NLRA rights, please see the National Labor Relations Board's most recent memos on the topic. Some states also prohibit employers from taking any sort of adverse action against employees for engaging in any legal conduct outside of work, so your policy should take into account any such laws that apply.
As with any procedural task, developing a social media and mobile policy can prove daunting. If you're uncertain of where to begin, seek advice from your HR team or an HR consultant. To ensure your policy falls within the lines of established laws, including the NLRA, seek counsel from an experienced labor and employment attorney.
An effective social media and mobile policy not only will set expectations but also will encourage your employees to contribute to the success and positive reputation of the company.
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Terri Walker joined TriNet in 2006 and has 20+ years of human resources experience. She is a strategic, dynamic, accomplished leader and a human capital and organizational consultant with excellent problem solving and management skills. She has demonstrated success developing ... View Full Bio