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Where Following, Friending, and Posting Fit in the Workplace
>AMY SUSAN: Hi, I’m Amy Susan, Communications Director for the Missouri Department of Labor. And we’re here today to kick off a series of podcasts surrounding the Human Resource sector and the workplace, in hopes to provide some helpful tips for Missouri employers. The first segment of the HR series will be about social media, and I’m joined here with Tammy Cavender. She’s Director of Human Resources for the Department. And with the increasing usage of social media sites, can you tell us why some employers may be struggling with how to handle this new communication wave?
>>TAMMY CAVENDER: Well, the new trend has raised many questions, concerns and debates about the use of social media, both in and outside of the workplace. There are security, ethical and legal questions from employers. Many employers ask themselves, should we allow employees to even access these social media sites during the workday, and also, can an employee speak negatively about the employer when they’re off the clock. So just lots of questions and concerns from employers surrounding the social media craze.
>>SUSAN: What tips do you have for employers?
>>CAVENDER: I think the trick is to find the balance between giving employees the opportunity to access these sites, while also safeguarding the business’ reputation from disgruntled employees. Most employers don’t want to restrict the use of both appropriate and useful information on these sites, but yet they want to minimize the risk, both to themselves and to the employees. And employers really need to embrace this social media wave. I mean, it’s been around now for a while. It’s going to stay and they need to realize that if they give employees the rights to use these social media sites in the way they deem appropriate, it can be a benefit to the employer. And some ways that they can do that is, one, they need to engage their employees. They need to ask them, you know, how are you using these social media sites, both at work and at home? And once they have that information gathered, they need to develop a social media policy. But having a social media policy alone is not enough. They also need to convey and train their managers, supervisors, employees on the use and the purpose of the social media. It’s important that they are clear with their employees on what’s prohibited, what’s allowable, so that there’s no confusion. Lastly, employers should consider training their employees on being brand representatives for the organization. If they embrace the social media wave they can utilize these employees, have them go out during the workday, check the different social media sites to see what customers are saying about them, competitors are saying, and bring that information back and make improvements in the organization to become even more successful.
>>SUSAN: Now on the flip side of things, its employees. Not everyone has a great day at work or loves their job or maybe just something happened. And oftentimes, social media becomes that engine to really blow off some steam. So what tips do you have for employees when it comes to social media?
>>CAVENDER: Yeah. It’s equally important that employees, whether they like it or not, understand that they are a part of that organization. So before that employee sends the friend request to their boss or to their coworker they need to think twice. Do they really want their employer, their boss, to know what they did over the weekend or personal information about themselves? Also, it’s important for employees to realize that what they comment and post on these social media sites, it’s a reflection of them as a person and very few employers want to hire or retain employees who air their personal complaints or unsatisfaction about their employer out on these social media sites. Employees should refrain from discussing information that relates to an employer’s confidential information or proprietary information. Keep information that might be of value to a competitor off of these sites, things like pricing, release dates for products. All of that is just not appropriate for the social media.
>>SUSAN: And it seems as if oftentimes it can also lead to potential lawsuits if they do overstep those boundaries.
>>CAVENDER: Yes, absolutely. You know, employers, as I mentioned, they need to have that social media policy out there, but it’s also important for the employee to know what’s in that policy. It’s their responsibility to understand what’s been written, what’s expected of them, know whether or not it’s allowable to view these sites and post on them during work time. Again, the best way to get ahead of this trend is to first learn more about it. You know, don’t get left behind. Employers, in social media sites, when they monitor them appropriately can be a benefit to them and also help them promote the organization.
>>SUSAN: Well, thank you again, Tammy, for joining us and for providing these helpful tips on social media. She’ll be back here again next week as part of our Human Resource series. Next week we’ll be talking about how to update your internal policies and how to deal with employee misconduct and unemployment. Thanks again for joining us. You can get more information by visiting labor.mo.gov or clicking on the link below this video.