Warning! Wordy blog post with no nice video to break it up...but a good article! All of our guys here at Network Marketing Towers spend their fair share of time on the usual social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Few of them have those accounts linked, although I am probably the exception in that, and prefer to keep their work and home lives separate. As a business owner, for me it is easier to share across all platforms and because of the range of things I talk about often transcends the ‘circles’ I live in, I hope no-one gets too offended on linked in if I tweet about a lovely filet mignon and Borollo I had the night before and that then automatically posts as a LinkedIn update. The key here is I am a business owner and therefore don’t ‘report in’ to anyone (and I’m unlikely to say anything too extreme…).
Imagine a situation where one of your staff were to spout off about how rubbish it is to work in your business or how dissatisfied they are with their working environment on the Facebook page and then you as an employer were to read it. How would you react? Is this a disciplinary matter or one that you can deal with more positively? Well, Ventura, the outsourcing solutions provider based in Leeds, found themselves in that very position recently when one disgruntled employee said online “I think I work in a nursery and I do not mean working with plants!” and “Don’t worry, takes a lot for the bastards to grind me down. LOL”. ( See the case of Witham vs Club 24 t/a Ventura) These aren’t isolated negative comments online about working conditions and references to companies people work in. I regularly see comments from people I follow from a common personal interest perspective who then go on to slag off employers, colleagues and work life in general. Anyway, the folks at Ventura weren’t too happy with this and decided to apply the full force of their HR department and to dismiss the hapless Witham. Well, of course it went to tribunal and the long and short of it is that Ventura lost. The message here is two fold. As an employee you need to be clear about what you are putting online and who you think could be reading it. Googles new ‘circles’ on Google + may help with this but it doesn’t replace twitter which you may have connected to your Google+ account. As an employer you should have a policy in place to advise employees what you expect from them. If there is a possibility that you will see their Facebook updates on a drunken Sunday night about how much they hate their job and how little they are looking forward to going to work the following day then the policy needs to cover this. Will this be taken in to account during reviews or disciplinary processes or is it deemed external to work and therefore not relevant? Whichever side of the line it’s on, it needs to be clear. Tribunals are the bane of any employers life as there is only ever one winner and that’s the lawyers. To avoid getting in to difficult situations with your staff over social media useage set an acceptable use policy and make sure staff take it seriously. It could save you a lot of money. Jonathan Hirst in MD of Network Marketing and The Book, marketing and creative recruitment businesses based in Leeds. He is also a Partner at ITogether, an innovative IT consultancy providing gold standard support and guidance to businesses, large and small, across all IT platforms.