This article is the first of a three part blog series focusing on social media and human resources that will cover the subtopics of employee conduct, social media policies, and recruiting.
Dresser & Associates recently hosted a webinar with guest speaker Alyssa Morris from Constangy, Brooks & Smith, an employment and labor law firm. Presenting on the topic of “Off-Duty Conduct and Social Media”, Alyssa shared her knowledge and advice on how to prepare for the inevitable encounter with social media in the workplace.
It’s an all too familiar cliché, but nonetheless extremely accurate that “technology is changing the way we do business”, and it’s changing every minute. Traditionally, HR departments have been slow to jump on the technology bandwagon but social media has forced them to speed up and hang on tight. Let’s face it, social media is growing at an unprecedented, exponential rate and it’s here to stay. We first need to embrace social media, the tremendously positive advantages, and also the jeopardizing downfalls.
Baking soda and vinegar, two stand-alone and harmless ingredients, when mixed become chaotic and messy. This is often the stance that HR departments and C-suite executives take in regards to mixing social media and their organizations. Don’t see it? Think of negative posts, comments, likes, tweets and re-tweets as the build up to the chemical reaction of an explosion of a lawsuit. It’s a topic dreaded by HR professionals.
More often than not, these negative comments are coming straight from an organization’s employees. The trickiest part of dealing with employees and social media is crafting a safe and compliant approach to navigating around the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Discipline for employees should be well-thought out and consistent, for, depending on the nature of a post, comment, or tweet, it may be protected under the NLRA.
Attorney Alyssa Morris suggests asking these four important questions before disciplining an employee for his/her social media conduct:
- Did other employees join the conversation?
- Is the comment a continuation of the earlier group action?
- Did the comment relate to terms and conditions of the workplace?
- Is the comment purely personal?
These questions will help to decipher which comments may be protected by Sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act. Every HR department, their executives, and legal council should be familiar with and knowledgeable of these sections before taking any disciplinary actions. It is most important to recognize that this law applies to all employees regardless of their private, public, or union standing.
Fortunately, sometimes we are able to foresee the build-up and potential explosion, and are able to take a proactive stance and prepare for what may have been a disaster. Here comes a Social Media Policy! Protecting an organization by instating a Social Media Policy will be water to the fire (hopefully).
The next blog in this series will focus on the creation and implementation of a Social Media policy.