Let’s think back to 8 years ago, where Facebook was not yet a household name, Twitter was non-existent, and LinkedIn was only just starting to become established. It’s amazing how much can change in less than a decade. Since then, the use of social media has exploded. Facebook now has over 1 billion monthly active users, Twitter has an average of 58 million tweets a day, and LinkedIn has become a central networking tool for over 200 million professionals worldwide. Because of this, social media has also successfully weaved itself into the workplace.
From employees posting negative things about their employers on Facebook and Twitter, to a discussion about the ownership of your social media connections, the news has been flooded with countless stories about social media and its impact in the workplace.
"FIRE ME...Make my day"
In a recent case, a woman was involved in a group discussion with some of her fellow co-workers on Facebook where she ranted about her employers and pleaded to be fired. Well, let's just say she got her wish. One of her colleagues took a print-out of the rant to her managers and she was promptly fired.
The employee then sought the help of the National Labour Relations Board claiming that she had been fired in retaliation for protected concerted activity. It was decided that she was not entitled to proceed with the case. (Source)
Situations like this have been plastered all over the news in recent years. From elementary school teachers posting inappropriate photos of themselves on Facebook, to frustrated employees ranting about work in their status updates, some people have little to no discretion when it comes to what's posted on social media. This case just goes to show you some of the consequences that can come from that and the importance, as employers, of having a social media policy in place. Check out one of our past blogs on the topic.
Social media for recruitment and selection
The relationship between the workplace and social media is not always a negative one however. More and more, employers are using social media to their advantage - not just as a means to connect with their client and prospect base, but as a means to bring top talent into the workplace.
Social networking sites expand the once limited options for recruitment and selection. Many employers use these sites as tools to recruit candidates who might not normally apply.
In a recent survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a number of interesting statistics surfaced around the relationship between social networking websites and the recruitment and selection process. Here is some of the data that was pulled:
Owning social media content
"Who owns the social media content created and maintained in the course of employment? Work product is traditionally the proprietary interest of the employer. But there’s something different about social media content." Source
When it comes to the connections you make on LinkedIn, the relationships you form with potential clients, and the networks you form while in an occupation - who exactly owns those contacts? Do they belong to the employee on the LinkedIn account or to the employer? That's the debate.
Most would agree that the key purpose of LinkedIn is to either generate business in your current occupation (increase your employers client base) or to generate business and connections for the next position (networking). Yes, it is true that the network developed an nurtured by an employee on a LinkedIn account is a crucial tool for them to have in their career, but it is also true that employers have a good reason to assert a proprietary interest over its customer list. So which is it?
The LinkedIn User Agreement is between the individual and LinkedIn. This means that, despite the "proprietary interest" argument on behalf of the employer, all connections made ultimately belong to the employee. Traditional standards have been shaken up by this rise in social media - something that testifies to the importance of being up-to-date with all the changes.
One thing has been reaffirmed after all these cases and debates surrounding social media - the importance of implementing social media policy in your workplace.
This hot topic is one we will cover in our Employee Policy Manual learning session held in September 2013. Visit our website for more information.
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