Do you have a workplace social media policy? If you don’t, you really should!
With many Australians accessing Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms daily, including during working hours, creating a clear understanding with employees as to what’s acceptable online behaviour in relation to your business is vital.
Your workplace social media policy should reflect the specific arrangements at your workplace, including, what online comments may bring your business into disrepute, what is considered the acceptable language used online in relation to your business and how that inappropriate behaviour is addressed.
From there, it’s important that employees are notified of this policy, and ideally, consulted in relation to the development of the policy, before it’s issued to staff. Employees should be required to read the policy and receive any applicable training, before signing off on the new workplace social media policy. Don’t forget to provide this information to all new employees, and, for best practice, re-induct all staff to all your policies and procedures annually.
When responding to a potential breach of a workplace social media policy, it’s recommended that managers tread carefully when performance managing or dismissing an employee. Remembering to follow your performance management processes, including:
- discussing the issue with the employee, to clearly understand the context of their potentially negative social media comments,
- giving the employee an opportunity to respond, and
- not coming to a foregone conclusion is imperative.
When the comments may have been made outside of working hours, or not specifically directed at the company, this also complicates the performance management process. Weighing up the severity of the social media policy breach, in relation to whether a dismissal would be unfair, unjust or unreasonable, is recommended. You may find, depending on the specific nature of the policy breach, that a warning is a more appropriate response.
When it comes to unfair dismissal proceedings, there are a number of cases where the failure to have a workplace social media policy or have evidence that the employee has received and understood it, has, in part, resulted in a decision in favour of the employee.
If your business doesn’t have a social media policy, it’s a great time to put one in place. Get in touch with our workplace consultants, who can help you with all your employment needs!