Are you concerned about the risks social media can bring to the workplace? Crisp Thinking is delighted to present guest speaker Kevin Poulter, partner at London law firm Child & Child, at our next Breakfast Briefing in London on July 5. In this blog, Kevin talks about knowing the the key risks to your organisation so you and your team will always be ready.
Just over ten years ago, social media made its way into the general vocabulary. A short time later, it found its place in the international business dictionary. Initially, few organisations knew how to respond to the opportunities it presented. Even fewer did so successfully. With a focus predominantly on the ‘social’ element of online communication, it took time to perfect the commercialisation of this fast-growing medial
Even now, a decade later, many of the tens of thousands of social media platforms are struggling to monetise and maximise their offering, missing out on businesses desperate to spend money and engage.
For consumers, both private and corporate, social media continues to present a number of opportunities, but it has also presented a growing number of risks and challenges. Whenever an organisation seeks to engage with a wider, often unknown audience, it opens itself up to criticism and attack.
All of us are familiar with news stories of how organisations have come unstuck by an ill-conceived marketing campaign or tainted by a defective product. We have also seen the rise of the ‘Social CEO’ acting as the online spokesperson for a business. But what checks and balances can and should be put in place?
Aside from the unplanned and unexpected, businesses are able to take action in order to prepare and protect against the potential for damage to their organisation, however that may come about.
Considering The Risks And Rewards
Risks to a business presented by employees can be effectively minimised with careful thought, planning and a little guidance. However, the responsibility for managing social media across an organisation cannot be restricted to the Human Resources or Marketing department. Social media is a pervasive issue that necessarily demands a broad consideration across an organisation.
Social media is part of a company’s day to day operations. For this reason, it should be a board level concern.
When it comes to employees, social media infiltrates the employment relationship in any number of ways. Online checks are an increasingly integral part of a company’s recruitment procedures, but must be proportionately managed and moderated to protect against claims of discrimination or bias; monitoring of public social media sites and surveillance of employees may be reasonable, but they impact directly on an employee’s rights to privacy and data protection; bullying and harassment increasingly takes place online, out of sight of managers and other employees, but the company may still be held responsible.
For businesses to maintain their competitive edge, they must protect trade secrets, confidential information and valuable intellectual property. Social media has made it all too easy to send a rogue message, upload sensitive information and risk damage not only to the business, but to key partners and investors. Personal data protection issues are also raised, with organisations owing a duty of care to employees, clients and customers, which need to be managed by appropriate policies and guidelines.
A practical, workable and appropriate social media policy, properly implemented, moderated, monitored and fairly enforced will not only reduce risk to the business, but afford organisations the option to hold employees (and others) to account and support managers in taking decisive action. Basic training for key employees/managers and general reminders will back up the message that the company wants to send out, along with complementary policies that work in unison to direct and guide the business and its employees and third party partners.
Of course, social media can also be a force for good in the workplace. Well-managed, self-policed instant messaging allows users across the globe to connect and share advice and information, video-conferencing and live-streaming make meetings possible across continents and each employee can be empowered as a social media ambassador for your organisation.
The Laws Around Social Media
Although there is no ‘law of social media’ as such, there are basic legal principles that should be followed when dealing with online issues. Some of these are informed by laws established more than a century ago, but others are now tackling activity in the online world. There is a wider public responsibility as well as an internal duty of care to employees that organisations must manage when dealing with social media in the workplace and tackling misuse. Although to many of us, this may be a simple question of common sense, it should rarely be assumed.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Social media presents a real opportunity to develop and grow relationships, empower employees and produce creativity and goodwill in a very real way. But as you would expect, it is essential to think ahead and prepare for problems before they arise, preventing damage before it happens and taking steps to reduce risk wherever possible.
Social media is showing no signs of going away. If you haven’t done so already, there is no better time to harness the opportunities it continues to present as well as prepare your business for any damage or harm that it could cause. Policies are a start, but they are only the first step in managing social media in your organisation.
Register for our Breakfast Briefing
What: Social Media In The Workplace: Prevention Is Better Than The Cure
Speaker: Kevin Poulter
Where: Goring Hotel, London
When: 5 July 2016, 8am - 10am
To register, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Spaces are limited, so book early.
Kevin advises commercial and not-for-profit organisations, as well as senior employees and directors, on the full range of employment issues. He has spoken on the impact of digital and social media on the workplace and the influence of social media on the next generation of workers. Alongside his legal work, Kevin regularly appears on TV and radio for the BBC and Thomson Reuters, and has contributed to numerous publications including the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Evening Standard. For more go to: www.kevinpoulter.com.