by Matthew A. Struck, CPCU, ARM – November 24, 2017

A 2016 Pew Research Study found that half of all full-time and part-time workers (51%) say their workplace has rules about using social media while at work (45% say their employer does not have these policies), while 32% report that their employer has policies about how employees may present themselves on the internet in general (63% say their employer does not have these policies). Of the employees who use social media in the course of their employment, 46% say it is useful for finding information they need to do their job.

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However, employers still have a love-hate relationship with social media use in the workplace. I recently contributed to a podcast that tackled this issue with an attorney, Kelly Adler of Capehart Scatchard. The use of social media has major positive and negative impacts on an organization. It’s a tight-rope walk for sure.

Listen to the Podcast here

What are the Benefits of Social Media Use at Work?
  • Wider reach for your brand or organization – viral content and paid advertising can reach hundreds of thousands of people in a very short period of time for relatively low cost
  • Opportunity to “humanize” yourself or your business – pictures and videos of your business allow web surfers to meet you and your team before calling or stopping in
  • Better targeting for marketing and advertising – demographic filters on social media have gotten so sophisticated that they can reach your target audience much more efficiently and with less wasted spending
  • Networking and collaboration has never been easier – social media gives employees the ability to network and collaborate at all hours of the day and across the globe
  • Content lasts forever – theoretically, data and information posted online will be available for the rest of the digital age which means the good things you post will be there indefinitely
What are Some of the Negatives of Social Media Use at Work? 
  • Presents a distraction for personnel – can take away productive time
  • Bad news can spread as quickly as good news – negative reviews and comments can go viral the same way the positive material can
  • Employee comments and activities can reflect poorly on the organization – an employee’s posting can result in major brand issues or even lawsuits
  • Employees may use the platform to voice their complaints about their current employer is a wide-open forum
  • Content lasts forever – the blemishes that show online will survive just as long as the beautiful things
Best Practices that Allow for Social Media Success at Work 
  • Develop a Social Media Policy – in fact, 2 might be best because hiring practices should have their own guidelines and then a second for daily use of social media by the workforce
  • Consult Your Attorney and Risk Management Professional – these professionals will help craft the aforementioned policy as well as provide insight into specific situations that might arise such as:
    • Potential privacy violations
    • Potential violations of employment laws such as the NLRA (listen to the podcast)
    • Lawsuits that may result from firing a worker due to their social media activity
  • Never make snap decisions regarding administrative or disciplinary action based on an employee’s social media activity
  • Monitor employees’ social media activity
  • Maintain oversight with regard to specific social media campaigns
  • Always weight the costs and benefits of allowing any particular type of social media access at work
  • BE CONSISTENT in your policies and their enforcement
Other Resources 

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*Treadstone Risk Management is an insurance broker and risk manager. We are not attorneys. Always seek legal counsel when changing/implementing any policies and procedures. Include your broker/risk manager in the process.
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