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Archive for April 2011

Social Media and Employees: Keeping Control, Preventing Disasters

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In our previous post we saw how employees’ misuse of social media can have devastating consequences for employers.  Like it or not, though, social media isn’t going away, and employees have access to all kinds of online channels in their personal lives. How, then, can you maintain some degree of control over how your people use social media without infringing on their rights as citizens? Let’s look at your options.

First, are you government or private sector? The Fourth Amendment prohibits governmental bodies from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures, and this prohibition may include monitored communications. Private companies, however, have some wiggle room here depending on state laws and the level of monitoring performed. Most private-sector cases hinge on whether the employee’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” has been violated, and if the employee was using company servers or bandwidth, then monitoring those resources may fall under the scope of normal business procedures.

What can you do to help prevent that social media from turning anti-social?

Have a company policy. You can shape it to suit your industry and expectations, but have it written down and make sure all employees read it, understand it and agree to it in writing as one of the conditions for employment. Employees must understand the potential consequences of distributing confidential information, defamation of the company or its staff and other harmful communications as defined by you. They should also understand the limits of their workplace privacy.

Insist on authorization. Make sure your employees know that they can speak about your company through social media channels only if they identify themselves as company employees, making to clear to readers that their comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of their employers.

We know it’s a complex topic. Contact us if you’d like to know more.

Dan Hettrich is the director of sales at Acadia HR located in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at dan@acadiahr.com or 512-745-2985.

Written by Dan Hettrich

April 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Social Media and Employees: The Electronic Danger Zone

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Social media cuts a deep, wide swath across our popular and workplace cultures. Twitter, LinkedIn, countless blogs and the ubiquitous Facebook make up just the tiniest tip of the social media iceberg. Maybe you should ask yourself if your company is well positioned to prevent a disaster like the Titanic.

Currently social media is whatever its users want it to be – for better or for worse. Employees can post communications through their own personal social media channels that reflect badly on their workplaces, or they can even abuse the workplaces’ own official social media platforms. Either way, you’re left holding the bag, and in some cases the bag may contain a lawsuit. How does this happen?

Reputation damage. Disgruntled employees may vent their frustrations through a personal blog, Facebook page or online discussion boards to spread venomous comments about their bosses, co-workers or the company as a whole. Left unchecked, this negative commentary spreads from online community to online community, creating a black cloud of bad PR.

Improper activities.  An employee might easily blurt out some trade secret or other bit of confidential information that could affect the company’s fortunes – or those of other companies. And if the employee writes ringing “personal” endorsements for a company without disclosing his relationship to the company, guess who gets in trouble with the FTC.

Lawsuits. Accusations of defamation and discrimination can spring from a variety of social media issues. What if a former employee sues you because your manager’s false criticisms make him or her un-hirable? Or how about the former employee that sues you for discrimination based on an HR staffer’s inappropriate comments on Twitter?

But don’t give up on social media just yet. Tune in next time to find out how to keep things under control, courtesy of Acadia HR!

Dan Hettrich is the director of sales at Acadia HR located in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at dan@acadiahr.com or 512-745-2985.

Written by Dan Hettrich

April 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized