Social Media… the greatest thing to come out of the 21st century or the product of all evil? Whether you love or hate social media, there’s no doubt it is prevalent in modern day society. So if you can’t escape it, make sure you understand it.

Used to connect individuals, share information, content and ideas, social media plays a big part in many people’s lives – but should it be used in the workplace?

There are a number of ways social media might feature in the workplace. Employees may use social media as part of their job role, or checking in personally to connect with friends and family. But where do you draw the line between a casual check in and wasting company time?

Whether you allow personal use of social media during working hours or not, it is important to be clear on what is expected of employees. You can do that by creating a social media policy which sets out the rules regarding social media and the company’s approach to it. This should cover how employees and the company should be represented on social media, when and how employees should access social media during working hours, when social media will be monitored, what rights the employee has and how the company manages elements such as cyber bullying, defamation and slander or political views.

Remember, employees might feel that their social media profile is personal, and shouldn’t be encroached upon by their place of work. Employees are protected by a number of laws regarding their privacy:

The Human Rights Act 1998 Article 8 gives a ‘right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence’.

The Data Protection Act 1988 covers how information about employees and job applicants can be collected, handled and used.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 covers the extent to which organisations can use covert surveillance.

Despite this, it is important to remember that once something is posted online – it becomes in the public domain and therefore reflects on employees personally and professionally. Consider how to manage defamatory comments about customers, colleagues or the company posted on personal social media accounts as part of your social media policy.

But what if an employee is using social media as part of their job role?

If an employee is representing the company online, set appropriate rules for what information they may disclose and the range of opinions they may express.

Make sure your social media policy finds a balance between protecting an employee’s privacy and ensuring company protocol is followed. As long as everything is clear and up-front, most people will be happy to adhere.

But wait – social media is not all bad! There are many benefits to embracing social media in the workplace.

A social media platform is essentially a free promotional platform for your company, encouraging and allowing employees to utilise the platform could help raise awareness, generate sales and build relationships.

Additionally, allowing employees to access their personal social media profiles (in line with your social media policy) during working hours could impact positively on workplace morale and productivity. It shows a level of trust and makes them feel valued.

Allowing short breaks throughout the day so employees to connect with loved ones can boost happiness and increase productivity – which all great news for your company!

Social Media can be an unlimited resource of articles, information and tutorials which could allow employees to upskill and learn while keeping up to date with industry news and trends.

However you decide to embrace social media in the workplace, talk to us about getting a clear social media policy in place – call 01736 339384 or email HelloThere@sapiencehr.co.uk