248-409-1900 dburke@mi-worklaw.com

By:  La Toya Palmer – 8/28/14

           Social media has become a staple in both the workplace and in homes. Businesses have been hard pressed to maintain a balance with their employees between professional and personal aspects of social media. Accordingly, employers are scrambling to update their communications policies to include provisions regarding social media. A 2013 Professionalism in the Workplace study by York College’s Center for Professional Excellence found that approximately half of the 401 human resources professionals it surveyed stated that “IT abuses have increased over the past five years” among recent college graduates. Approximately 65.2% of the human resource professionals stated that excessive tweeting and use of Facebook was a consistent issue. Here are five things you should keep in mind when considering implementing a social media policy:

  1. A solid social media policy should outline what is considered confidential and private information.
  2. The policy should discuss the company’s position on when or if it is appropriate to participate in social media forums during scheduled working hours.
  3. A good social media policy should educate employees on their responsibility as well as the company’s responsibility when communicating on social media.
  4. The laws impacted by social media in particular and the internet in general are still evolving, and employer obligations can best be described as a “moving target.” For example, the NLRB has issued several advice memorandum about social media polices and employees posts. Consequently, it is imperative that when composing a social media policy it is a collaborative effort, between your legal counsel and management.
  5. Employees should be made aware that information that is posted on the internet is “forever.” It is virtually impossible to erase something once it is published to the internet. The information is almost always searchable and can be found by someone. Therefore, employees should be encouraged to be responsible and cognizant of the information they post.

          Whether employers like it or not, social media is here to stay. It is better to spend time and money on the front- end to minimize any legal exposures than to wait until after a problem occurs. Now is the time to review your communications policy to ensure that your company is in the best position possible, by having a solid social media policy in place, before you wish that you did. To learn more about social media, I will be speaking at a seminar on this subject through the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce on September 10, 2014, at the Crown Plaza of Auburn Hills, 1500 Opdyke Road, Auburn Hills, MI. Registration is through the Chamber – www.auburnhillschamber.com.