As an employer, you may assume that what your employees do off the clock is none of your business. While this is true to a certain degree, your employees are an extension of your business. Consequently, the actions that your employees take online can reflect on your company. This is especially true when employees post information about business matters on social media. A clear, understandable social media policy is crucial to protecting your company’s reputation and preventing sensitive company information from being shared online.
Employees often have access to confidential information like customer contacts, employee personnel files, proprietary business practices, trade secrets, and sensitive financial information. One of the key concerns regarding social media is that employees will intentionally or unintentionally share confidential information online. Your social media policy should address what information is confidential and explain clearly that this information may not be posted online. Remind employees that social media messages, posts, and pictures may still be accessible by others even if their account is set to “private.” In some cases, a social media policy alone is insufficient. You may also need to use a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement to ensure that sensitive information is not leaked online.
Anything your employees do or say online can reflect on your business. Whether they are complaining about a rude customer, commenting on their work uniform, or sharing a picture from inside the facility, word travels fast online. Something that an employee shares can quickly go “viral.” Your company’s brand can be irrevocably damaged in a matter of days or even hours. Even if the employee deletes the post, screenshots or archived versions of the website may still exist online.
Another concern many employers find themselves faced with is misinformation and confusion perpetuated online by well-meaning employees. Many customers and potential customers inquire about products, services, pricing, and business hours online. They also use online reviews to express their opinions about the quality of the products and services they receive. Ideally, your company has a designated individual or team who is responsible for engaging with customers online. Make sure your social media policy clearly explains who is tasked with speaking on behalf of the company and who is not. Unauthorized employees who answer customer questions or respond to online reviews may share inaccurate information or damage your company’s reputation by responding in a manner inconsistent with your brand.
A strong social media policy is key to protecting your business. For help creating your business’s social media policy or employee handbook, or for other business law needs, contact Illinois employment law attorney Richard J. Miller. Call the Miller Law Firm, P.C. at 847-995-1205, for a free consultation.