These days social media is a powerful tool for businesses. Not only does it help businesses attract new customers and generate revenue through advertising, but it allows for brand development through connecting and increasing interactions with customers. Within a business, it can also boost employee engagement and help facilitate communication.
However, businesses also face considerable risks with the use of social media and networking tools. Organisations are now exposed to claims such as online bullying and harassment, defamation and employees posting disparaging comments about their employer online. From an organisational perspective, there is a responsibility to have increased awareness of their employee’s social media use, in and outside the workplace.
So, what can happen when social media use goes wrong? In the case Stutsel v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd, a truck driver was dismissed for serious misconduct after posting about two of his managers on his Facebook profile page. The comments made by the dismissed employee regarding his managers were considered to be of an offensive, derogatory and of a discriminatory nature. However, the truck drivers appeal against the dismissal was upheld by Fair Work Australia. One key finding by the Commissioner in relation to the case was that the company did not have a social media policy to clarify the expectations of employees and that the induction training and handbook were not adequate to justify dismissal.
Therefore, one way for employers to mitigate the risk that comes with using social media is to have a robust policy in place.
Key components of a social media policy should include:
- Outline the purpose and scope of the policy
- A definition of Social Media
- Clear expectations for behaviour by identifying conduct that is considered appropriate and inappropriate
- A link to other organisational policies, such as the code of conduct and disciplinary procedure
- Education for employees to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities in relation to their conduct using social media.
Before an employer can take action against an employee for inappropriate social media use, careful consideration needs to be given to establishing whether the employee’s posts have a direct link to their work and/or workplace and whether its nature is damaging to the brand.
If you need assistance in implementing a social media policy or reviewing your current policy please contact Preston HR on 07 4052 0709.