PR explains what you need to know
Should you monitor the social media activity of your employees? Is it necessary to check out the social media accounts of prospective employees?
Social media has changed the entire landscape of business, especially regarding employee/employer relations. Getting it wrong could land your company in hot water and cause damage to your brand. With help from PR, you can learn how to navigate this minefield, maintain a positive company culture and protect your reputation.
The case for monitoring
There have been many instances where a company found itself in the middle of a crisis due to an accidental or misunderstood social media post. At other companies, employees have been fired as a result of their online activity, even when the information in question has nothing to do with the offender’s job.
In addition, according to a survey by CareerBuilder, more than 40 percent of employers said they look at the social media profiles of job candidates. Almost half admitted that they dropped a prospect from consideration due to what they found on the applicant’s social media profiles. That being said, 20 percent also said that they have found information on social media that caused them to move a candidate up on the list.
Proponents say that, due to the faceless nature of social media, employees don’t always think first before firing off a negative post or tweet. They use social media to complain about the company, their jobs, co-workers and even demanding customers. Many have posted joke videos that shine a negative light on the organization.
These kinds of actions can lead to unwanted attention for your company culture and policies as well as lawsuits claiming harassment or defamation. And, yes, social media records can be used as evidence in court.
It is vital to seek advice from legal experts to determine your rights in protecting your office, your good reputation and your brand. You should also consult with PR to help you proceed with caution when dealing with social media.
The argument against constant scrutinization
Some say that checking the social media profiles of job prospects leads to discrimination based on age, ethnic background or religion. Since applications are reviewed by human beings with their own moral codes and beliefs, using social media in this way can easily become a hunting expedition to reject qualified candidates for very minor or functionally irrelevant “violations.”
For example, some companies won’t consider applicants who post party photos or pictures of themselves in beach attire. Losing out on the best and brightest prospects and employees because of private activities, sexual orientation or political ideologies only helps your competition.
You could also face discrimination lawsuits from candidates who try to prove that you used their social media information against them. Even if you win, you will have wasted valuable time and effort. As a result, it may be best to hire a third party to handle social media with regard to your hiring process and look to PR to ensure that you stay on the right side of this emerging technology.
Use PR to help you sort it all out
In business, written rules and comprehensive communication tactics can turn potential problems into solutions, and PR can help. For instance, creating a wide-ranging social media policy and sharing it across your organization can serve to prevent a crisis before it has a chance to develop. You should also provide training and education about risks, prohibitions and what constitutes acceptable behavior for everyone in your organization.
Trust Axia Public Relations to be your strategic social media partner. We can help you develop innovative methods for employee feedback and illustrate the benefits that you can gain from an open, engaged office culture. Contact us today or download our e-book The Essential Social Media Management Guide for more tools and tips on handling this important issue.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter @axiapr.
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