As a manager, it is your responsibility to keep your company prosperous. This goes beyond just overseeing the daily flow of work. You also need to prevent damage to the company brand. Online comments by angry employees can be a threat to your business, but social media poses a thorny problem for managers. How can you know when you may take action and when you should refrain? When an employee violates your social media policy, you must proceed with caution and determination.
The Pitfalls of Social Media
Savvy businesses have learned to exploit social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter, to engage directly with their customers. Your employees are most likely using these sites as well. As protected speech under the First Amendment, they have every right to express themselves, but problems arise with employees discuss information about your business that is harmful or even illegal. Social media is a new phenomenon, and not all laws and regulations are clearly defined or understood. You may want to control the flow of information about your business, but a policy that you think is reasonable could actually infringing on the rights guaranteed to your workers through federal law. An error on your part could lead to legal action against your company.
Your employees are allowed to complain about you. They have a right to an open dialogue concerning work related topics. In a group environment, they may publicly discuss their wages and working conditions. You may not take disciplinary measures against these sorts of comments. They may: – Disclose their wages to one another – Complain about safety issues – Talk about working environment – Share information about benefits These conversations can take place on a social media forum where your customers can see it. There is not much that can be done about it, but there are limitations. Protected comments are those made in the context of a group discussion. Simple complaining is still a punishable offense.
Things Employees May Not Do
When an employee violates your social media policy, your company brand can also be harmed. Unsubstantiated negative claims about the quality of your products or services discourage sales. Employees can be disciplined for: – Simply complaining – Making knowingly false statements – Discouraging your customers from purchasing from you – Harassing or threatening coworkers – Damaging relationships with vendors You have a responsibility to respond to these types of remarks to protect the rest of your staff and your business from abuse.
Preventing an Incident
When you have found that an employee violates your Social Media policy, it is usually an indicator that there are other problems that need to be addressed. The most important thing you can do is to facilitate communication. Encourage your workers to bring their complaints to you first. Train your staff to openly discuss problems they have at work. Using group sessions or an open door policy to help the alleviate the need to air grievances online. Update your company policy regularly, and send out memos with the revisions attached. Your new policy should be in keeping with the latest findings of the National Labor Relations Board and the most current interpretations of federal regulations.
After an employee violates your social media policy, it’s time to take corrective action. Your overall goal should be to protect the company brand. There are three ways to help you do this. First, you need the offending remarks removed from the internet. It is bad enough when your customers disparage your business or write unfair reviews, but you have no control over what the public says. Your employees are little different. You have some leverage. If you are able to salvage the professional relationship you have with your employee, convince this person to remove the social media post. Secondly, you need to correct the attitude of the employee that has made the offending remarks. This can be accomplished through your company’s standard disciplinary policy. Depending on the severity of the infraction, a verbal or written warning may be justifiable. Thirdly, you must ensure that it does not happen again. An employee that is a habitual offender should be terminated, but you should do more than modify one employee’s habits. Your entire staff should see the consequences of damaging your firm unfairly. The internet is a powerful tool of communication used for both constructive and destructive purposes. Your employees have a right to express themselves and cannot be discouraged from doing so. They also have a responsibility to control their comments and avoid unfairly damaging your company’s reputation. When an employee violates your social media policy, make sure you take the appropriate steps to correct the problem. If you are having difficulty with an employee and need help deciding what to do, check out some of Live Career’s other online resources for tips and advice.