How to Prevent Christmas Social Media Disasters
With the Christmas party season starting, employers need to be alert in ensuring that employees behave appropriately at in the lead up to Christmas and at company celebrations. One area that employers often overlook is the potential for employees to misbehave on social media. This includes employees posting inappropriate pictures or making inappropriate social media posts before, during or after the company Christmas party.
As people wind down heading into Christmas, employers and employees may drop their guard. The end of year can be an emotional time, with stress, relief and reduced inhibitions leading to social media and other outbursts.
One case of a Christmas social media outburst that ended up in the Australian Fair Work Commission concerned a hairdresser who slammed her employers on Facebook after receiving a formal warning for lack of punctuality and a smaller-than-expected Christmas bonus. The employee posted a comment on her Facebook page that read: “Xmas ‘bonus’ along side a job warning, followed by no holiday pay!!! Whoooooo! The Hairdressing Industry rocks man!!! AWSOME!!!”
The post led in part to her sacking and a Fair Work Commission challenge, with the Commissioner warning that there could be consequences for workers posting negative comments about their bosses under certain circumstances under the principle that behaviour outside working hours could lead to dismissal if it breaches an express term of the employment contract.
“A Facebook posting, while initially undertaken outside working hours, does not stop once work recommences. It remains on Facebook until removed, for anyone with permission to access the site to see”, said the Commissioner.
The company Christmas party can also be a social media minefield, with the potential for drunken Facebook and Twitter posting. There are several preventative measures employers can take to keep the behaviour at the company Christmas party decent:
- Having a current social media policy
- Providing training face to face or eLearning that directly relates to the policy guidelines on social media use
- Sending formal reminders to all staff about expected standards of conduct
- Having a set start and finish time
- Ensuring the responsible serving of alcohol during the event and having food and non-alcoholic drinks available
- Ensuring the gift exchanges are appropriate or do not offend
If the event is managed correctly and behavioural expectations are set, the probability of an outburst on social media will be minimised.
One problem that occurs at Christmas celebrations is that they often happen outside of office hours and outside of the workplace. Employees can be confused about whether the same rules apply as when you are at work and may think it is appropriate to post pictures of work colleagues doing inappropriate things. Alcohol can also distort employee’s perceptions of what is an appropriate social media post.
Employers are responsible for the actions of their employees. Each workplace should have comprehensive policies relating to discrimination, harassment and social media already in place, and should ensure that staff are aware of these.
In the digital age, employers need to understand the importance of taking preventative measures to minimise the potential for employees to misbehave on social media during company celebrations. World Learning Hub has developed a digital training program that addresses responsible use of social media, with a focus on the main forms of social media and the potential impacts it can have on organisations and people.
COMPLIANCE GAP WILL BITE ORGANISATIONS
The more time I am spending meeting contemporaries in organisations across Australia, the more I realise that there is a real gap in the HR compliance risk management suite. They are generally ticking off the EEO and Safety pieces, even though often with under done and humiliatingly boring programs signed off by ‘lawyers’.