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October 19, 2012

Social Media, the latest entrant into the HR manual

Sometime back, during the U.S. presidential debate, an irresponsible tweet from the KitchenAid account created quite a commotion. The company was quick to apologize and saved the day but the employee handling the twitter account had to pay a price.

An irresponsible comment here, a reckless tweet there and a seemingly innocent update sometimes brings on the wrath of customers and management and results in hurt PR and Career.

Social Media has become a necessary evil which even the human resource team members are befriending. Social Media is now ingrained in our every day life. India is one of the top countries which have seen tremendous growth in traffic for sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We have 100+million users of social networking sites in India.

From organizations perspective the benefits are largely in creating brand awareness, platform for customer service and feedback, reaching out to prospective customers and employees, employee engagement and knowledge sharing. But incidents like KitchenAid tweet should be a lesson to HR for it is time we frame our policies around social media. A social media policy outlines for employees the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world.

The points to consider while we are at it might be:

What and How does social media work in the scheme of things: It is of primary importance to be clear about which sites, platforms are being considered under the umbrella of social media

Who owns the Social Media in the organization: Ambiguity regarding who is responsible for what online, needs to avoided. Rules should be in place for accountability of digital assets.

What is legitimate for the business and industry: Every industry has its own set of conduct, it is the responsibility of the HR to elaborate as to what area is sensitive and cannot find a mention on the social media platforms

The acceptable language and tone: As a part of the company each employee becomes a brand ambassador. Thus the kind of comments coming from them should not hurt the brand.

Non-disclosure: Some information if made public can be detrimental for the health of the organization hence clarity regarding what not to disclose has to be clearly spelled out.

The content of the post is the owners as in employee’s responsibility: A reckless tweet from ones twitter handle which damages the reputation of the company will draw disciplinary action.

It should be explicitly clear to the employees across all divisions and departments that the social media usage on behalf of the company would be monitored.

It is unimaginable to think about keeping employees away from social media. It has vague distinction between personal life and work life. Social Media activity during work hours are distracting and it does affect the work productivity. Respecting the personal space of employees is appreciable but only when they exhibit maturity in managing their time effectively.Social Media has the world flat and is here to stay. The challenge however is to reap the benefits without succumbing to its sting. 

Tags : hr and social media, social media, influence of social media on hr

About Nivedita

Nivedita has almost six years of experience in the HR domain. In her current role with an IT company, she manages the talent acquisition and talent management initiatives of the organization. She has been honored a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources. She began her career in 2005 and has been working in the different domains of Human Resources ever since.