ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Anna Cairo
Anna Cairo Anna Cairo is a social media communications expert advising SMEs on how they can leverage it for business but at the same time minimise risks associated with social media. Her focus is social media policy and she educates businesses around the impacts social media creates in the workplace. As a strong advocate for social media, Anna is a firm believer that businesses must have social media policy regardless of whether they use it in the workplace or not. Anna consults, conducts workshops and coaches businesses around being proactive with social media. She is regularly asked to speak to lawyers about social media risk and associated issues in the workplace. As a researcher and author she has had published various academic and business works. Anna was recently nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2013. You can join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Cairo-Consulting/285887488090944)

Anna Cairo has written 12 article(s) for us.

Visit http://www.annacairo.com



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Social Media Policy Essential in the Workplace

April 3, 2013 | Anna Cairo

If your workplace doesn't have a clearly defined social media policy then it is time for a change.
If your workplace doesn't have a clearly defined social media policy then it is time for a change.

Social media blurs the lines between personal and professional communications. As millions of Australians use social media every day, this presents substantial risks to workplaces particularly for those with no safeguards in place.

As social media becomes more entrenched in our lives providing easy accessibility to communicate, the spectrum of technologies that is social media encourages interactivity and engagement disrupting the separation between work and home. Networks are full of contacts that are personal, but also include colleagues and clients. This presents difficulties as employers have no control over what employees talk about. And these conversations have consequences on business workplaces when inappropriate comments arise.

Some of the negative impacts social media can pose on employers include:

  • defamation
  • harassment
  • bullying
  • disclosure of intellectual property
  • misleading and deceptive comments from third parties
  • unfair dismissal situations

These are only a few, so what should employers do?

The best approach for businesses to protect themselves is through a social media policy which needs to be an essential part of all workplaces. Even the Fair Work Commission has made it clear that having “no social media policy was ‘not sufficient’ in this electronic age” (Stutsel v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd [2011] FWA 8444).

Why is a social media policy important?

It provides the opportunity to seek clarity and can help to:

  • provide guidelines and boundaries around what is acceptable behaviour
  • assist in making distinctions between public and private information
  • draw the line between what can be published and shared and what needs to be kept private
  • assist in identifying and managing potential risks to the business

Although a social media policy does not protect the business entirely when it comes to legal or reputational concerns, it can save time and money on litigation when issues arise.

Employers should minimise risk and uncertainty by creating a social media policy in collaboration with employees so that workplaces can use social media in positive ways but also protect the business.

The best workplaces are those that partner together to gain the best outcomes for all.

Does your workplace have a social media policy? Or do you have other strategies in place that work well and that you would like to share?