Electronic communication policies should be expanded to include guidelines around Internet usage and social media. HR policies and your employee handbook should be reviewed regularly and updated with current information relating to these newer technologies and practices. As you update your policy, consider the following:
- What is the balance you seek between monitoring employee productivity and the employee’s privacy?
- What is your tolerance for personal use of email, the Internet and social media while on company time? While using company systems?
- How will you train employees on acceptable usage of company information systems?
- What acknowledgement of the policy will you require?
- Who will be responsible for enforcing the policy?
- How often will you review the policy?
Specific guidelines and best practices around the following should be included in your policy:
- Remind employees that company information systems, including Internet history and email, are not private and should be used for business purposes only.
- Define social media in general terms to include a variety of sites, including blogging sites.
- Only designated employees may use social media sites for work-purposes. These employees should be aware of the company’s policies and guidelines on communication and confidentiality.
- Employees who engage on social media sites should identify that their views are their own and do not reflect the views of the company.
- Employees should not link to the company’s internal or external website on their own personal sites.
- Employees should not be retaliated against for expressing their opinions for political or other lawful purposes.
- The company may take action to protect its name, products, employees and services that are mentioned in any blog.
- Video, pictures or audio content should not be posted without the written consent of the company and/or employees involved.
- Employees should be discouraged from “recommending” co-workers online and should abide by the company’s stated reference guidelines.
- Employees who engage in illegal activity via the Internet or blogs over the company’s information systems, whether on company time or otherwise, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
- Employees who violate the company’s social media policy are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Electronic communication and social media are changing constantly. Staying on top of this policy and setting forth specific guidelines for use will protect both the company and the employee from misuse.