According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, federal regulators are ordering employers to scale back policies that limit what workers can say online.
Apparently, the National Labor Relations Board continues to inform private-sector companies that workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution — whether those discussions take place at the office or on Facebook.
Such guidelines set by the National Labor Relations Board, are designed, of course, to encourage workers to communicate freely with one another with the aim of improving wages, benefits, or working conditions. Many companies find this to be a holdover from the industrial era, when employees were encouraged to unionize and communicate any questionable workplace situations.
Yet most social media policies in place today chiefly revolve around the possibility of the employee painting his or her employer in a negative, disparaging light — and presenting a challenge to the corporation’s brand, products, or services.
At issue, is that many employees may be unaware that what they are posting to Facebook or tweeting may position their employer negatively. Employees generally want to do the right thing — and hold on to their jobs.
As such, training is needed to ensure that whatever the social media policy a company has in place, that employees are trained to exercise sound judgment when engaging on social networks. According to Charlene Li of Altimeter Group, this is the biggest challenge facing social media policy drafting and its related employee training: how do you train for judgment?
It’s often difficult to determine the percentage of companies with formal, written social media policies in place — you know, the kind that you have to sign on your first day of work — because a lot of companies have folded social media compliance into their existing Media Relations and Information Technology Usage policies.
A juicy tidbit I found online: an online database of 219 social media policies, compiled by Chris Boudreaux.
When policies are more supportive rather than punitive, providing examples and hand-holding, employees can share all of the positive experiences of the workplace, and their employer receives innumerable benefits.
Are you struggling with designing a social media policy for your organization, or are you concerned with adherence or compliance? Contact me, I’d love to hear from you.
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