If social media can help employers weed out bad candidates during the hiring process and keep company culture strong once someone has been hired, why would a company consider implementing a social media policy for employees?
When a business neglects to enact a social media policy, its hiring managers are laying down the red carpet for current and potential employees to do what they like on social media. And while this can be a blessing for employers who rely heavily on social media to screen potential candidates, it can be a curse for applicants.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware that First Amendment rights don’t necessarily apply to their place of employment.
In fact, according to Hubshout’s 2016 Social Media Conduct Survey results, a full 71.6 per cent of respondents do not understand the consequences of posting unfiltered content on their social media profiles.
What does the First Amendment cover?
The First Amendment protects an individual’s right to free speech. More specifically, it protects a person’s right to freely express themselves without interference by the government. Private sector interference, however, is not included. That means that yes, your employment can be terminated as a result of the things you post online.
Why enact a social media policy for employees?
To understand the importance of a social media policy, we first need to understand fully the benefits that social media offers to employers. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of both free-range social media activity and social media policies…
Free-range social media
Social media is an excellent tool for vetting candidates during the hiring process. A resume might disclose an applicant’s work experience, but looking into an applicant’s social media accounts can provide a more comprehensive look at their beliefs, culture and personality. These are things that a resume alone simply can’t provide.
According to JobVite, up to 93 per cent of job recruiters said they planned to use social media during the hiring process. They included sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in their social media searches.
Another survey by CareerBuilder provides even more evidence of job recruiters using social media to their advantage. In fact, the survey revealed that job recruiters hired potential candidates whose social media content displayed the following:
- Excellent communication skills
- Background information matching resume information
- Personality matches for company culture
In short, free-range social media can help employers determine which candidates are best qualified for a position. However, once a candidate has been hired and represents the company, it’s typically in that company’s best interests to keep tabs on employees’ social media content.
Social media policy
As previously stated, First Amendment rights only protect a person’s free expression from government interference. Employers, on the other hand, are listed as private sectors and therefore are allowed to terminate employment based on social media content.
According to the same CareerBuilder survey mentioned above, up to 18 per cent of employers report firing employees in 2015 for something posted on social media. Implementing a social media policy can help prevent employees from posting inflammatory or negative content on social media that may cast a company in a bad light.
In addition, reducing the risk of negative content can also aid in preventing employee turnover. The hiring and training process in most cases is a lengthy one. Once someone has been hired, other employees and managers must invest both time and effort into getting them up to speed.
It can be extremely frustrating for a company to have to then fire that new employee for posting insensitive or unprofessional content.
Social media policies: are they in a company’s best interests?
With all that in mind, it would seem that social media policies are indeed useful tools for employers. Not only can these policies protect employees, they can also protect your business from losing money and face.
Remember: every business is different, which means your social media policy may not necessarily match another company’s. How to best prevent loss of turnover and promote a positive company culture is up to you.