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:
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  FWA 8444).
Why is a social media policy important?
It provides the opportunity to seek clarity and can help to:
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?