Oh I've got this nailed….a lawyer with your social media policy in their hand.
Haha! You think I jest, don't you? I'm not. Not at all. HR is running scared from Social Media. And the lawyers are making them do it. Bad for Corporate, outstanding for me. (I'm in retained search, no rules remember? Just those moral ones I impose…)
I know, I know, you… like me…. are out on the Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and God knows where else all day, every day. Especially if you're sourcing. But your HR department really really doesn't want to deal with you being out here. They don't want to even think about what you're looking at, or when. And they're really struggling with how to build a social media policy. And the lawyers are really just doing their job, making corporate HR painfully aware of the law, NLRB and the big loopholes a broad social media policy can create in favor of employees. As part of the faculty for the Advanced Employment Issues Symposium (AEIS), I've listened to various presentations on employment law and social media and the thing that holds true in every single one? 90% of the slides are why employees shouldn't be on social media…leaving a measly 10% to justify the positives. It's difficult for me to not spout off in those situations.
For several years now when I speak to people about sourcing on social media, I usually do a public service announcement about creating a social media policy. I'll guide people to several different examples and one of my favorite resources is socialmediagovernance.com. It still is. I'll also talk about my personal experience and I do own that in many cases that I am a poster child for why you need a social media policy, particularly from a corporate HR perspective – I've had the extreme opportunity of creating a personal online presence as sites like Twitter were born, and using that presence professionally as well as personally. I tend to lean towards no policy, but lots of guidance. I think that you can never assume people have common sense or good manners. That you need to set expectations. But what I learned at AEIS, and in particular from keynote Francine Esposito, is that as HR crafts these policies there are a few key take-aways:
- Tie y
our Social Media policy and the things you won't condone– like harassment – into your existing policies in your employment manual. Leave that language broad and you won't have a leg to stand on.
- Go read the NLRB decisions – as many as you can. NLRB=National Labor Relations Board. While you think NLRB only impacts employers with unions, it doesn't. Some of the rulings coming out of these precedent setting cases are impacting non-union employers as well. Best bet, create a Google alert and check on these daily.
- Make your team familiar with GINA. GENA=Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act. This one tears me up, I tend to function with specific blinders on when I source and look for qualifications without inferences. It really ticks me off when people infer based on profile information. But GENA is around to protect employees that may be discriminated against because their family has a genetically transmitted condition. It's as simple as I post on a profile pic on Facebook with me in a pink t-shirt for Breast Cancer awareness with writing that says “for Aunt Adeline”. You didn't hire me after viewing my Facebook profile pic? Bad news for you my friend.
- If you have a social media recruiting initiative, turn on your brain. The information on social media is really competitive intelligence and when recruiters are tweeting your jobs, and engaging with candidates, they need to be doing so from an account that is AEISKelly as opposed to SourcerKelly (which is tied to a personal email and has personal content). And AEISKelly will be tied to a corporate email and the password logged with a social media gatekeeper. Truly it's to protect your organization and helpful in keeping a finger on the pulse of where your recruiters, or anyone, are engaging on-line.
Scared? Exhausted? Don't freak out. What this really boils down to is conversations and creating a social media policy that is clear, concise and written in a common language every employee can understand so expectations are set. It also means that you can't just let HR and recruiting fly on-line, a little care and education has to happen.
Hit me in the comments with your thoughts…
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.