When it comes to social media risk, business owners appear to believe common sense is the best guide for employees. This is far from adequate as the term means different things to different people.
One of the key aspects of social media that makes it challenging for employers is the blurring of the boundaries between personal and professional lives. People’s networks are full of not only friends but also colleagues and clients. There is little separation between these two aspects and this contributes immensely to social media risks.
SMEs have only one reputation and as such need to protect this as much as possible. Banning social media in the workplace is a knee-jerk reaction and is inconsequential when smartphones are taken into account. You only need to take a look at the Fair Work Commission website to understand that social media is impacting the workplace.
Employers need to educate themselves about social media, the technology and the tools. The reasons I hear for not doing so include “I don’t have time”, “we don’t need it” or “we don’t use it” are no longer relevant. All employers need to be on board and education is key.
A policy is a vital aspect to minimising social media risk but is not fully embraced by SMEs in Australia. Having one assists in keeping everyone on the same page by providing guidelines around what is acceptable/not acceptable behaviour. By having a policy an organisation is taking a stance to determine the best approach.
Partner with employees
Employees shouldn’t be seen as the opposition. They need to be harnessed so that they can be the voice of the business to promote and market new products and services. Employers and employees need to work to together to get the most out of social media.
A social media policy means nothing if there is no training around what is expected. Employees, therefore, need to be trained on what the policy entails, what is expected of them, why this is the stance the organisation is taking and what the consequences are should this be breached. Training also needs to take into account generational issues and this is something that is rarely discussed.
Maintaining business reputation, trust and integrity is paramount in the business world. There have been enough high profile cases to suggest that employers need to be proactive around social media risks. Being positive and striking a balance between the employer and the employee is important. The most successful employers find a way to partner with employees to get the best outcomes for all.