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Monitoring the virtual water cooler: Facebook and beyond

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in Career Management,Employment Law,Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Workplace Communication

by Heather A. Hoyt, Esq.

National Public Radio recently aired a story about how employees working at IBM feel compelled to have a Facebook page. And it’s not just the newly minted, tech-savvy twentysomethings, either.

IBM managers “all the way up the chain” are on Facebook—and if you’re not, “You feel like you’re doing something wrong,” one employee said. The company actively encourages employees to use sites such as Facebook during working hours to build professional networks and exchange business ideas.

Social media presents many new possibilities — and pitfalls. That's why we've teamed a leading HR social media expert with a top employment attorney to give you the full picture on how this communications revolution affects your workplace and your work. Introducing the new webinar: Social Media for HR Professionals. Register now for this eye-opening webinar on Nov. 4

IBM is clearly not the only company employing growing throngs of Facebook loyalists. Facebook representatives say it’s fastest-growing demographic of users is the 35-and-older crowd.

But most businesses don’t have a social media culture like IBM’s. Instead, more than half of all U.S. companies prohibit the use of such sites at the office. Such policies may create more problems than they solve.

Advocates argue that social media function like the next generation of water-cooler chitchat. They say companies shouldn’t banish social media use just because they’re afraid of it or don’t understand it.

Nevertheless, while social media sites can create positive networks and foster a sense of community and camaraderie among employees, they can also create real headaches for employers. What do you do as an employer when you learn too much about some of your employees?

Social Media for HR Professionals will acquaint you with the tools of social media and explain how those tools should (and should NOT) be used in the workplace. You’ll learn how to successfully employ social media while managing the legal risks. Register now....

What’s in your policy?

Before your company creates a policy on social networking, consider whether your business is in a heavily regulated industry (such as pharmaceuticals) or an industry that requires a particularly high level of confidentiality. The added legal complexities in those industries may weigh in favor of being extremely cautious about embracing social media as part of your company culture.

If you do decide to encourage employees to use social media at work, make it clear to all employees that they have a duty not to disclose confidential company information or trade secrets. That duty should extend even to social networking sites employees may consider “personal.”

Warn employees that they cannot defame the company or its employees. Be clear that any violation of the policy will result in discipline, up to and including immediate termination.

The lines between personal space and the workplace continue to blur. Odds are good that many forms of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are already thriving in your workplace. Who knows what technology is next.

As an employer in the 21st century, it’s best to make a conscious decision about how to address those issues with your employees. Proactively develop a policy so you don’t get stuck doing damage control—perhaps becoming the latest talk heard ’round the virtual water cooler.

Whether you’re a Twitter devotee or new to the scene … a Facebook aficionado or a beginner … this insightful webinar will help you formulate policies, train your staff, recruit top talent and more. We’ll discuss:
  • What Social Media/Web 2.0 is
  • How HR can benefit
  • The difference between profession-based and “pure” social networks
  • Using social media in recruiting, career development and employment branding
  • Three internal legal risks of social media
  • Three external legal risks of social media
  • Analyzing how your employees use social media
  • Developing a social media policy for your workplace
  • And much more!
Register now for our Social Media for HR Professionals event!


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