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Business Tips – Social Media – What Gives?

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Many of my clients seem to be tearing their hair out because of staff taking time away from their designated jobs to ‘play’ on the social media sites or incessantly chat on their cell phones.

Twenty years ago Social Media was simply the radio or television and was relatively harmless to business – I mean it was quite easy to ensure that staff were not glued to the TV or the radio. With the introduction of WWW (World Wide Web) and the internet however, things have changed drastically and currently employers are bearing the brunt of it.

Today we have all sorts of distractions such as (but not limited to) Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and don’t forget Instagram and WhatsApp. According to an article written by Jan Du Toit entitled “Social Media: Guidelines on the policy for employees using social media for non-business purposes”, employees spend as much as 79% of their business day, playing on social networking and gaming sites. Never mind the work that doesn’t get done, there is also the cost of the resource that the company will ultimately be responsible for. Just how long can any company, regardless of its’ size, continue doing business under these circumstances – my guess is not very long at all.

There have also been reported incidents where employees have been dismissed because of how they have disparaged bosses or colleagues or clients, publically – what kind of damage does that do to the reputation of the company as well as the individual? Yes, technology has advanced us as a species into a wonderful world, where there is so much to explore and learn – sadly, it has also caused huge problems in terms of the way that it is being abused by individuals who have no control over their own actions and who are addicted to the games or the interaction. Sadly many of us find that are lives are now governed by gadgets.

It is obvious, that in order for SME’s (small, medium enterprises) as well as big corporate companies, to survive the technical revolution, certain measures need to be implemented to ensure that staff spend their work time actually working and not playing in their personal capacities. Enter the Social Media Policy. This will set clear guidelines to ensure that staff do not abuse company resources and provide clear definitions between what is and isn’t allowed.

Here are some of the types of issues that would need to be addressed:

If the employee is using media sites for business purposes, they must be aware of and clear on (but not limited to):

– Which social media sites can be used and when.
– The legality of postings and whether they are ethical or disrespectful and disparaging.
– The company’s confidentiality policy should not be breeched, this should include the personal details of management, colleagues and even clients and suppliers.
– Company details and information should be correctly disclosed, and only the official company logo should be used.
– In terms of compliance or legislation, it is also a good idea to ensure that all copyright laws are adhered to.
– Media type statements and public postings should always first be cleared by the employer or their designate.

For employees using the internet, social media (including cell phones and IM {instant messages applications}), they should be (but not limited to).

– Company policy on the use of company equipment as well as what social sites can be used and when
– Company confidentiality policy must not be breeched in any way, so company information must be kept safe
– The company code of conduct should be upheld
– Employees should only post in their personal capacities and not on ‘behalf of’ the company, their colleagues, clients or service providers and suppliers.
– Usage of cellphones should also be included here.

Furthermore, employees should be made aware of the consequences, should they fail to comply with the policy and a reminder that internet and e-mail and in the case of company cell phones, usage can and will be monitored.

It’s also a good idea to include this on the letter or contract of appointment, making sure that employees understand that when they sign their letters or contracts, they also give employers permission to monitor the internet/e-mail/cell phone usage of the employee.

Please contact Nikki, if you require assistance with this policy or any other policies/procedures/templates that you may require.

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