Employment Law Explained

Social Media in the Workplace

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2 London Guildhall1 Social Media in the Workplace   social media

Last Friday I gave a presentation to users of the City Business Library at the Guildhall in London.  The topic was the use of social media in the workplace and the issues it raises for employers. You can view the presentation by clicking here.

There was a useful discussion afterwards and most people had stories to tell of how people at work had misused email, inadvertently or otherwise.  Social media, of course, goes beyond just email and surfing the internet.  Indeed, controlling use of these two is probably the easiest of the challenges facing employers.  IT departments can deny access to dodgy websites and it is easy to tell employees what should and should not be said from the corporate email account (although having said that it is still amazing how many people ignore this).

The real problem for employers is how to control use of Twitter, Facebook etc by employees using these media on behalf of the business.  It is simple to ban all personal use ofTwitter logo1 Social Media in the Workplace   social media social media in office hours (although query how well this would go down with your staff:  social media is here to stay and how many employers would feel comfortable with banning people from using the telephone for personal use during office hours?) but employers recognising the power of social media to promote their business face a harder challenge. For instance, take the example of Vodafone UK earlier this year (which I refer to in the above presentation) when one of its employees used the corporate Vodafone account to make highly inappropriate comments, causing offence amongst the phone company’s 8,000 odd followers.

Just nominating certain employees to use social media channels isn’t going to be enough; they will need to be made fully aware of what is and is not acceptable.  The main point I make in the presentation is the need for employers to act consistently towards any breaches by staff, otherwise they risk claims for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination arising.

facebookimages Social Media in the Workplace   social media Some of the members of the audience were surprised by my assertion that it isn’t possible to delete your Facebook account. You can deactivate your account but that doesn’t remove all the information you put on and may still be there for Facebook to access. I was wrong, apparently you can delete your account – it just isn’t very easy or quick – see this post here.  I have a Facebook page (please “like it”) but I can never really get to grips with Facebook .  I am going to keep on with it for the time being, but I much prefer Linked In.

I am giving the same talk again at 2.30 p.m on 25th June at the CBL.  Please book directly with the CBL: 020 7332 1812; cbl@cityoflondon.gov.uk

As a law firm we can help businesses develop social media policies to fit within your wider social media strategy.  If you need further help please contact me at michaelscutt@dalelangley.co.uk or phone me on 0207 464 8433.

Incidentally, The Guildhall is a superb location and well worth a visit if you haven’t been. The City Business Library is also a very valuable resource and much improved since its move from the old location in Brewers’ Garden.

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 Social Media in the Workplace   social media

Michael Scutt, Employment Solicitor 

Employment solicitor with Crane and Staples, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Blogger & writer. I like cycling, cricket, football and history.

4 Responses to Social Media in the Workplace

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vivienne Storey. Vivienne Storey said: Be consistent in your approach to breaches of social media policy to avoid unfair dismissal claims http://bit.ly/d0VY55 [...]

  2. Michael

    I have had a few problems downloading your slideshare presentation (I will have another go tomorrow) but you raise a very imporant point: social media in the workplace.

    I have been active on Twitter for a while but had to change my profile after about 4 months due to an inadvertent tweet which offended a client. It certainly made me think carefully about my stream, although lately I have been commenting on areas outside my practice area, like the issue of trust both in relation to social media and client relationships generally.

    I have been blogging for some time on the use of social media in law firms but from a differnt angle to your presntation, namely how it will (undoubtedly) play a role in business development, marketing, PR and over time customer service.

    My aim is to try and show how social media should and indeed must become central to a firm’s strategy to grow its practice and even though professional services are late adopters, I still think that for those, like yourself, who show enough foresright, they will be able to jump the curve (as Guy Kawasaki defines it).

    If you have not already checked it out, I would recommend that you read Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan which has some very good material on the policy considerations of social media. Also, I would check out David Meerman Scott whose website is http://webinknow.com.

    Regards
    Julian
    .-= Julian Summerhayes´s last blog ..How to Win Clients: just Ask for the Referral =-.

  3. Michael Scutt says:

    Julian

    Thanks for the comment. I will certainly look out for Chris Brogan’s book (I’ve heard of it but haven’t read it) and David Meerman Scott’s website. I’d be interested in talking about social media from the angle you describe as I think you’re absolutely right about its use for the future (how far off is the future?!).

    If you can’t access the slideshare page let me know and I’ll email it to you.

    All the best

    Mike

  4. [...] written on many occasions before about how employers need to have a usage policy for social media to guide employees on what is and is not acceptable use of Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. As the [...]

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