Today has seen the launch of GDS’s Social Media Guidelines for Government. I’ll blog on those soon, but I was reminded last week that one of BIS’s partner organisations, ACAS, has produced a range of information on just what should be included in a social media policy.
Given that organisation’s focus on employment relations and fostering good HR practice, it’s not that surprising that part of the rationale for producing guidance is to avoid problems, so, among the reasons for encouraging organisations to have a policy in the first place are so that it can:
- help protect itself against liability for the actions of its workers.
- give clear guidelines for employees on what they can and cannot say about the company.
- help employees draw a line between their private and professional lives.
- comply with the law on discrimination, data protection and protecting the health of employees.
- be clear about sensitive issues like monitoring and explain how disciplinary rules and sanctions will be applied.
A lot of us haven’t quite completely bottomed out the private and professional lives distinction yet, so anything that can help people confront that issue at the very outset has to be A Good Thing. Similarly, it’s also interesting to see a number of somewhat unexpected legal issues underpinning guidance development, such as the Human Rights Act.
ACAS have also produced a number of factsheets which both businesses and individuals can use. These help companies work through the main benefits and risks of social media usage. Some of them do get raised quite frequently in conversations that I find myself having, including, how to deal with:
- time theft
- distinctions between private and professional personas
- fears around monitoring.
The development of all this material is itself influenced by this embedded research paper which looks in more detail at some of the employment relations considerations that social media use throws up.