August 29, 2019

In the modern world, there are so many pitfalls for businesses, not least because the internet has put everything under a microscope. You need to be careful about how your company comes across, as well as looking after the reputation of the business as much as you possibly can.

One of the biggest concerns business owners face when protecting the company’s reputation is social media.

In particular, employees ‘Tweeting’ things that could tarnish the reputation of the business or causing issues with other employees. 

One of the things you may need to contend with is staff talking about freedom of speech when they post something online.

Although staff are entitled to express themselves online, there are limits and you should have a clear social media policy so that staff know the boundaries. In particular, if they wish to comment on a subject that is related to their employer’s interests, they should make it clear that their opinion does not reflect the opinions of the company.

You should also consider holding staff training sessions on social media use. 

Where freedom of speech does not apply is when it results in a deliberate damage to reputation. This is something that should be made clear to all employees so that they are aware when they are posting things on social media. It is important to understand the reach of social media and why employees need to be careful. Deleting posts, or having a small number of followers, is not going to be enough to stop a post gaining traction.

An issue that a lot of businesses face is that people generally post anonymously, especially if they are posting something negative.

This can make it difficult to identify the culprit and to launch disciplinary proceedings.

A recent case in Australian saw a government employee Michaela Banerji fired over Tweets criticising government policies. She had posted the Tweets anonymously, but after investigations, it was proved to be her. This is something you will need to keep in mind if one of your employees has Tweeted something negative. Proving who it was can be challenging, but it is possible. 

It is important for businesses to have conflict management procedures in place that can help to reduce the risk of employee Tweets occurring in this manner. For instance, you should be able to block your employees from accessing social media while they are in the workplace.

You should also make sure you provide a way for employees to air grievances and get things off their chest in a more healthy way. This is going to reduce the risk of them venting with reactionary Tweets. 

These are some of the things to consider when you are looking for ways of handling employee tweets in the right way. Sure, this might not ever be something that is an issue for you, however, if it does become an issue, it can be very damaging to the rest of the business. Make sure you have an action plan for how to deal with this in the right way.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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