You don’t have to imagine; it happens a lot more than you think.
Weekly we receive alerts regarding individuals who were reprimanded for online activities. It’s often the case that they thought it what they were doing was private to their network – whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc., Or they were under the impression that they were operating with ‘free speech.’
Either way, typically both the employee and employer will come under fire. When your organization is at the centre of a viral social media storm, there are consequences beyond damage to your brand reputation. As an employer, you can be found liable for your employees behaviour. For a publicly traded company, that could mean reduced stock price and other costs such as litigation. For a government organization or a hospital, that can mean serious discipline and a loss of trust.
It’s not uncommon that some organizations believe that there’s no need for a social media guideline because ‘adults should act responsibly’ and ‘use common sense.’ I’ve also heard employers claim that employees are ‘too busy during the workday’ to use using social media, therefore a guideline is a waste of time.
But the problem is that the average person doesn’t understand that they’re responsible for what they say and do online and offline. And if they don’t know, there’s a risk that they could say or do something that could impact the organization as well.
Consider creating Social Media Guidelines/Policies, and offering Social Media Training.
Social Media Guidelines will outline your employees rights, company expectations and other critical policies (IT,devices etc.) While social media training is meant to be an opportunity to reinforce what’s stated in the guideline or policy. You would be surprised how many times I’ve run these types of sessions and heard from employees that they had no idea they could be reprimanded OR fired for things they post online, after work hours.
Social media can have a positive or negative impact on an organization, but you can mitigate some of the risk by setting your employees up for success.