Social media in the workplace has become a hot topic, rife with all sorts of complications for employers. Should we allow employees to "tweet" at work? Can employees tweet about work? Does our authority extend to an employee's Facebook page? Can we fire an employee for his or her online content? What can truly be defined as "objectionable"?
I've cautioned employees and job applicants about the risks associated with having an online "presence." I still maintain that it is possible to participate in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter without compromising one's professional standing. However, on the topic of social media, I haven't fully addressed the employer's needs. So here goes.
Yes, organizations need a comprehensive social media policy. Ideally, it should be written by individuals who fully understand the definition of "social media," and have utilized it themselves. It doesn't do much good to place censorship on one's Twitter page if you don't know what a "tweet" is. To that end, a great resource is JD Supra's Social Media in the Workplace page, a collection of articles and sample policies written by individual lawyers and law firms for your use. Topics include legal issues associated with online communications, hiring and firing concerns, harassment and defamation. While these resources will not write your policy for you, they serve as a terrific starting point and can add some much-needed clarification on the topic of social media, and the importance of every business to have a clearly-written policy in place.
Once you have the basics down, check out Doug Cornelius' Social Media Policies Database - a frequently updated listing of organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Associated Press and Best Buy, and their respective social media policies.