HR’s Grasp on Social Media

Everyday People 2I recently presented at a summit in Hartford with my colleague Danielle. Our breakout session was focused on educating small to mid-sized businesses about social media and which platform(s) might be right for their organizations. At the end of our presentation, we opened it up to questions.

One question that sticks in my mind was from a gentleman who worked at a large health insurance company. He asked (I’m paraphrasing), “From a Human Resources standpoint, what do we do to control or monitor our employees’ use of Social Media?”

I think this is a valid question that needs to be asked.

Working at a PR firm staffed by ten people, I’m coming from a different angle. However, I do have a friend who works in HR at a large helicopter manufacturer. He can’t even get onto the L.L. Bean website, or a site that has “blog” in the title url. So much is blocked by their IT department from employee use. All of this to maintain employee productivity, among other things.

My first thought (which was then eloquently shared in another presentation by a colleague of mine from the CT Association of Nonprofits): Your employees are out living their lives on their free time, they are probably talking about you, and they are probably even talking about you while they are on the clock! Do you have an HR policy for that? Ah ha!

Then I thought a little more about the question. Something disparaging spoken about your company is no good, of course. But if your employees are saying unflattering things about your company, they obviously aren’t doing it on a grandstand to 500 people (“Hi! I want to get fired!”). Perhaps one to three people heard this dissatisfied employee’s remarks. And odds are, it could be forgotten in time.

When your employees say something negative about your company on Twitter, Facebook, and/or on a blog, that is permanent! Not only is what they said essentially etched in the proverbial stone that is the Internet, but it can be retweeted, and referenced, and copied and spread (quite easily).

I willingly admit that I have ZERO HR experience. But this is my two cents on monitoring employee use of Social Media. The best suggestion that comes to mind to ward off such a travesty: hire good people. That’s the first step.

What do you think about monitoring or restricting employee Social Media use? Is it reasonable or is it a little “Big Brother” for you?

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