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How is Social Media Impacting the Workplace?

OMG you will never guess what happened at work today


As social media becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives, it is impacting the way businesses recruit staff and how they manage them within the workplace. Social media is often encouraged as an effective marketing and networking tool, yet scrutinised when staff log on during work hours.  

Adcorp’s Human Resources Director, Heather Kirk, is concerned that managers may rely on “common sense” to guide their team’s use of social media and realised a potential for legal ramifications. Heather sat down with Joydeep Hor, the Managing Principal at People & Culture Strategies, to compare views on how to best manage social media in the workplace.

Avatar - Heather KirkWith social media being encouraged in the workplace as an effective marketing and networking tool, managers may assume that “common sense” might prevail when using sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.  What are some of the pitfalls managers need to be aware of?

Avatar - Joydeep HorI think the single biggest pitfall is that “common sense” doesn’t always apply and that different people have different views about what is and isn’t “common sense”. The biggest risk with social media for managers I think is that it has taken the blurring of the boundaries between work life and private life to a whole new level. It’s taken all of the problem aspects of electronic communications to a more condensed form and more blurred the territory of work and private life. So you have numerous people in a workplace who are connected to each other. Outside of the workplace through Facebook, Twitter, etc, there is a lot of information that is shared by people through those media. It’s not necessarily intended for people who are colleagues, but because very few people would spend the time to separate communications that are appropriate for colleagues vs communications that aren’t, that contributes to one of the single biggest risks.
Avatar - Heather Kirk
What “best practice” measures would you suggest that management should put into place to prevent any potential legal ramifications from using social media?

Avatar - Joydeep HorI think the starting point is having a very effective social media policy. That social media policy should also link in with the general electronic communications policy that the organisation has, so that the two are not disconnected. The other policy that it needs to dovetail into is the workplace behaviour policies or policies that deal with bullying and harassment. 


Another watchout for employers is that if they are relying on particularly outdated policies, that’s not going to necessarily protect them from the perspective of the risks that arise through social media. 

 Once the policies are in place it is even more critical to ensure that there is proper training and education in relation to exactly what those policies require.  If that education training piece is not done then it is very hard to rely on the policies. 

While organisations induct reasonably well when new people start, it’s a lot harder when you’ve got policies being rolled out to existing employees. I think it is a general appreciation that needs to increase amongst the workforce that social media does carry with it some challenges and let’s not get too comfortable with its useage.

Avatar - Heather Kirk
Where could managers go for extra information on social media and the hazards in the workplace?

Avatar - Joydeep HorI think what you tend to see is that a lot of social media cases are being played out in the media, more so than they are in harassment and bullying cases. If you were to go, for example, to the Fair Work Australia website and do a search for “Facebook”, you would see a number of cases that are reported there. Also, it’s interesting to see what is happening in this space overseas, in the US and UK, where a lot of developed countries are facing this precise challenge. Countries like China grapple with it least because of restrictions around certain social media things. The other point is that organisations need to think beyond merely whether people have the right to access it at work or not, it’s got to be a more holistic consideration, the fact that they are using it.
What do we do at Adcorp to manage the challenges that come with having Social Media as part of the workplace?
The dynamic nature of social media means our team is constantly reviewing changes to each platform and how they affect our own and clients’ policies.
At Adcorp, we have developed a Social Media Policy and Guidelines which dovetails in with our other policies such as Discrimination, Harassment, Bullying and EEO; Drug and Alcohol and IT and we continue to modify our policies regularly when changes to technology and social media occur. We have also created training videos covering these aspects to ensure our staff is well informed and understand the changing ways the platforms work.

Heather Kirk, Human Resources Director

Adcorp assists organisations of all shapes and sizes in developing robust social media policies and training employees to understand their rights and obligations. For more information on how Adcorp can help your organisation develop a robust social media policy contact your local office.





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