Ever hear of the old Nostrum: “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail?”

And it’s time to plan for dealing with social media usage by employees. Like it or not, your employees are all over social-media sites, blog spots and more, so it’s time to address this.
An employee social media policy is often detailed in a separate section of the employee (aka company) handbook. The handbook not only ensures that current employees know what’s expected of them when it comes to social media, but in some instances, may often protect the company when issues of confidentiality arise. For example, what if an employee complains online about his unhappiness with a new and better computer system?

At a minimum, make sure that the new policy section states whether or not employees may blog or otherwise comment on social media sites about anything at your company, or its clients, vendors, and other business partners. The answer here will almost certainly be “no” – but now it’s in writing, and clearly stated for all to see.
Also be sure to discuss the extent that employees may conduct personal business on company time and with company systems. This is because some employees may put their business first, and get around to working as an employee only when all personal matters are completed. This is expensive to the employer, and demoralizing to other employees. But the employer’s right to stop this and the legal outcome may be unclear unless there is a formal policy saying something like “no personal business on company time, even if there is nothing else to do.”
Like all policies, social media policies must be enforced, and consistently enforced. Otherwise, if they are left in print and forgotten, there may be problems when a legal problem occurs. In this case, even the best-written language may be challenged, and rendered as void and of no effect.
An HR professional can help amend your employee handbook, or we can help too.
Like it or not, your employees are all over the Internet, and it’s time to formalize social media expectations to best protect your company.