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Tuesday, 04 November 2014 00:00

Social Media in the Workplace

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The growth of social media is a phenomenon of this century. The increase in the number of smart phones and affordable tablet devices have all contributed towards the explosive growth of social media, the numbers of platforms are bewildering. Even the queen has her own twitter account.

There are many pluses to this exciting new way of promoting businesses; it is easier to raise your profile in the marketplace, to maintain client contact and to launch and promote new products and services.

However, and there is always a however, how can you, the employer, protect yourself, your business, staff, clients and suppliers from disgruntled employees. How can you stop employees making inappropriate comments about their colleagues , supervisors your products ,services or customers on the web. How can you stop reputational damage to your brand by injudicious comments?

The short answer is you can’t, at least you can’t once the message has gone out. However there are a number of steps you can take to minimise your risk

Put in place a social media policy - I can’t say this too often the policy needs to state clearly what is and what isn’t allowable and the consequences if the policy is breached .

Make sure all of your employees are aware of the policy and reissue it every 6 months.

Take disciplinary action if the policy is breached up to and including dismissal.

When facing claims for unfair dismissal associated with social media comments tribunals will look at

  1. Was there a  policy if there wasn’t you have virtually no chance of defending the claim
  2. Was the employee aware of the implications of breaching the policy
  3. How many people actually saw the inappropriate posting.
  4. What was the effect on the business of the post
  5. Could the employee claim breach of human rights.

If an employer has a clear coherent policy in this area the chances of an employee being successful at a tribunal are substantially reduced. 

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