Social media adds a whole new layer to the employment process, particularly from a Human Resources and Corporate standpoint. It’s no longer “just” social media – the online conversations provide a wealth of information that is easily collected and used to make many decisions, and employment issues are no different.
From the hiring process to dealing with former employees, there are many key points related to social media that companies need to consider.
1. Pre-employment/hiring process: it’s no secret (or surprise) that Human Resources departments are turning to social media to learn more about candidates. This information is another layer that helps them make good decisions during the hiring process. More than a Google search, social media research can dig deep to find out more about a candidate through what he/she posts online. Here are some tips to make sure this is an effective process that keeps you safe legally:
- Develop a written policy that explains how social media content is used in the hiring process. State what can and cannot be collected to be used to make a hiring decision. Aspects like religious beliefs and marital status, for example, cannot be used in the decision making process. Make sure the policy is clear and detailed so there is little room for potential candidates being able to sue on the basis of discrimination.
- Use a third party to conduct the search: the hiring manager ideally should not be the one conducting the social media scan; this alleviates any potential or perceived bias. Using another individual to conduct the searches will provide a layer of protection, as they only provide relevant information that can be used in the decision making process to the hiring manager. This protects the hiring manager in that if he/she doesn’t ever see the other social content, they could not have used it. For this reason, many companies chooses to outsource the social media monitoring process, as these firms use sophisticated programs and are aware of HR laws, so you will only be provided with the most relevant, legally allowed information.
2. Current employees: your employees are a representation of your company. This is another area where monitoring social conversations can be important – do you have employees bad mouthing the company, or sharing proprietary information? It’s relatively easy to find out, and continual monitoring programs will help with this process. Here are some tips to make this an efficient, effective process:
- Have a solid social media policy in place: employee handbooks should reference the company’s social media policies and expectations. Similar to signing consent for release of information and the ability for phone conversations to be recorded for quality assurance, employees should be required to sign a similar document stating that they reviewed the social media policy, understand it, and will adhere to it as outlined in the employee handbook.
- Make clear the policy on different social aspects, such as employees connecting socially online with their supervisors, for example. This is the new workplace dating, and while social connections are simply connections and do not signal a deeper relationship in most cases, this is something that needs to be considered. In a similar vein, accounts like LinkedIn need special consideration – if an employee builds contacts during employment, what specifications are in place for post employment? Are those contacts “fair game” for former employees to contact at their new job? Does it depend on the contact? Make sure it is spelled out in your policy.
- For further protection, some companies will require employees to post a disclaimer on their personal social content. Something along the lines of: “the content posted is my personal opinion and does not represent the opinion of XYZ Corporation.” Of course, this is something that would be more relevant for larger corporations and/or senior members of the company, but something to consider.
3. Post- employment: while former employees are on their own and no longer represent your company, social media monitoring can be useful to ensure in this area as well. Here are some tips on using social media monitoring for former employers:
- Continue to monitor a former employee when non-compete/non-disclosure/non-solicitation factors come into play: this is one area where social media is extremely useful. Similar to insurance companies finding content posted by those fighting for workman’s comp that negates their claim, social media monitoring can help identify breaches.
- Monitoring adherence to social media policy: hopefully your company’s social media policy outlines what happens when an employee leaves with regard to online content, connections, etc. Ensuring that what is considered “company property” is not being used by former employees can be tough, but again social media monitoring can help with this.
Social media has really impacted the employer/employee relationship, and, while the above sounds daunting and too much to monitor, the good news is that there are social media companies who can handle this for you. They have the time, expertise, and software platforms available to make this a painless process. Our company has worked in the social media landscape since 2007, and it’s been riveting to see the evolution of how social content is used, particularly from an employment standpoint.