What are the biggest social media challenges for HR managers and teams? HR consultant Lyndsey McLaughlin lists 6 of the biggest challenges for HR when it comes to using social media and interacting with employees.
Social media can be an excellent tool for connecting with individuals and an effective way to grow your network. However, it can cause a wealth of challenges for HR. Therefore, every organisation must have a social media policy and disciplinary procedure to deal with the challenges they may face.
6 social media challenges for HR
These are some of the prospective challenges HR faces concerning social media:
1. Abuse of sickness and absence policy
One of the most common issues HR faces is employees posting content of themselves socialising or enjoying holidays when they are on sick leave. For example, posting images of a recent skydive when they're off with a bad back, or posting about being on holiday when they are off with poor mental health. It is a challenging situation, but it is important not to jump the gun in this instance for HR.
Instead, take the time to speak to the employee and learn more about the situation. Indeed, in the case of someone with mental health issues, any activities they indulge in may be a way to deal with their problems positively. HR comes across this often and, usually, other employees have sent in the evidence. If the employees' social media are private, this can be even more challenging, as they will want to know how you came across the content.
2. Reputation damage
Employees talking badly about their employer on social media is another common issue HR faces. Social media is personal, but it is inappropriate to speak negatively about your employer on your platform. It will depend on the HR policy you have in place, so it is essential to cover yourself in this area. Employees should not be bad-mouthing their employer on social media as it can negatively affect their reputation and employee brand.
3. Excessive use at work
Another common social media challenge for HR is employees using it excessively at work. Depending on your social media policy, you may allow social media to be used during breaks. However, employees mustn't be using it excessively. Social media can be highly addictive, and it can be difficult to monitor usage without micromanaging your employees. The best way to understand social media usage is to monitor productivity. If productivity declines, it may be down to social media usage. In this case, you can speak to employees about their social media usage and remind them of your policies.
4. Bullying and discrimination
Employers don't have the right to monitor private social media accounts constantly. However, any complaints of discrimination or bullying should be taken seriously. If you have an employee who is bullying or discriminating against someone else, then this would be a severe issue that should be dealt with. Whether outside or inside work, employees are expected to uphold your organisation's reputation.
Celebrities have even lost their jobs for such actions. For example, comedian Roseanne Barr had just seen the reboot of her Roseanne show enjoy huge success in 2018 when she made a racist comment on social media and the entire show was cancelled. ABC said that her comments were inconsistent with their values. Whether famous or not, employees are expected to uphold the company's values, and this means ensuring their comments are indiscriminative. It could result in suspension or even dismissal.
5. Safety and security
There are also concerns over safety and security when individuals within the workplace have access to the company's social media. This can often prove problematic, especially when employees leave, and access has not been changed. Therefore, companies must have a strict policy that ensures employees cannot access social media when they have left employment.
6. Breaches of confidentiality
Another challenge of social media for employers is when employees breach confidentiality. It may include posts about the company's profit or loss, redundancies, client information, etc. In one example, a theatre company announced that they would be going into liquidation via their social media page. The result of this action was a pay-out for the former employees, as they had not followed a proper redundancy consultation. An action like this is a major headache for HR. It affects the reputation of the company and those associated with it, but it also causes more financial troubles.
When utilised positively, social media can be a highly effective tool. However, it is subject to abuse, which can cause challenges for HR. Therefore, all organisations should have a social media policy that outlines the expected conduct of employees using the platform.
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Written by Lyndsey McLaughlin
Lyndsey McLaughlin is a CIPD qualified HR consultant and recruitment professional who specialises in HR advice and writing about a range of business and staff management topics for employers and managers.