3 Remedies for Coping With Social Media in the Workplace

Over the next few years, there’s one trend that will be common in many organizations: out with the Boomers and in with the Millennials.

Posted by Joe Gerard in Human Resources on November 3rd, 2010

Over the next few years, there’s one trend that will be common in many organizations: out with the Boomers and in with the Millennials. The generation gap between the two groups raises a number of security and privacy risks, mostly because of social media and differing opinions about sharing  information. Social media can help strengthen relationships with the public and bring value to a company by addressing customer concerns. When used properly, social media can provide your company with a ton of benefits- it just requires some work. Here are some tips for developing a social media policy and making sure private company information stays private:

Define Your Expectations

I fall into the “Millennial” category, but I understand why social media can seem scary to some managers and business leaders. Millennials grew up with the Internet, social media and e-mail- it’s second nature to them. When developing a social media policy for your workplace, refer back to the original agreements each employee signed when they started working for you. On Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation Blog he writes:

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“Prior to beginning your work with this organization, you signed an employee agreement that has detailed non-disclosure, privacy and intellectual property clauses. Above all else, those contractual agreements stand.”

Let employees know that you expect them to respect client, company and other private information. When engaging in conversations on blogs, forums and other social sites, make sure employees know that they are expected to be transparent and communicate to the audience who they are, where they work and that their opinions are their own- not necessarily representative of the company. IBM has done a great job at defining employee expectations in their company social media policy which you can access by clicking on the link.

Identify and Explain Risks

Make employees think twice before posting their frustrations for the world to see. The level of risk your company faces will influence the usage of social media in the workplace- and rightfully so. Here are some of the issues you’ll want to address:

  • Discussing client information- The words you publish on Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs spread- and stick around for a long time. Posting defamatory or private client information looks bad on the person who wrote it, the company and the client.
  • Discussing corporate information- Employees should refrain from talking about proprietary information, performance or internal issues on social media sites. These aren’t public issues for a reason.
  • Online reputation- If you are going to engage in social media, think about your online persona. Are you representing yourself the way you want to be seen?
  • Venting frustrations- Social media isn’t the place to go and vent about workplace issues. You might discuss those matters with a group of friends, but remember, like I said above, the words you write on the web last a long time.


The only way to get your message across is to actively monitor social media usage and hold employees accountable for their actions should they fail to abide by the company’s policy. If an employee is spending too much time on Facebook, address the issue. If you find defamatory or client information on forums that was written by one of your employees, make them face the consequences. Having a social media policy allows you to cover ground on this topic and inform employees of the consequences of their actions, however, if you don’t monitor the program, then what’s the point of even developing a policy?

Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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