Whether it is airing professional grievances or corporate secrets, personal social media use can be both a public relations and a security issue for companies. Yet, a Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace Survey found only 17 percent of companies with 1000 plus employees had any social media guidelines in place – most of which support “expression” but rely on an employee’s responsibility to use personal “judgment” about content.
The future of employee social media policies, however, will become much more definitive as a company’s reputation and security can too easily be harmed with little recourse except firing an employee. Some companies are even restricting, blocking or banning personal social media activity at work. According to a survey conducted for Robert Half Technology, a staffing company, 54 percent of companies are curtailing personal social media activities on company time.
No matter the circumstances, the “we vs. them” approach does not work. Addressing workplace social media behavior must be a holistic effort. To be successful, guideline preparation, dissemination and adoption should be created and promoted by a cross-functional team: key management, legal, HR, communications, IT and employee representatives, among others. Social media – and its use or misuse – is not going away and the PR implications are as serious as they are in crisis communications.