For all the laudatory and enthusiastic reports you see online about the energetic, motivational work place provided by Google – juxtaposed by an equal number of posts which are highly critical and directly accuse the company of under-paying and over-working its staff. Social media at the workplace brings with it uses as well as challenges, which leave many an employer in an agony of indecision about having it or shunning it.
Is it an excellent marketing tool or the perfect place to publicly wash the dirty linen? What issues would arise in the work place, with employees working remotely at all times? Can performance be managed using a task-based approach instead of a time-based one? If allowed access, do the employees know how to use it responsibly and productively or will they use it, for the most part, for personal mails, accounts, contacts and online shopping? Can we totally ban such use or set reasonable limits? Then there are the questions about the safety and health of employees relegated to a desk for long hours, getting addicted to the use of gadgets and media; and the worries about the reduction in face to face communication! Some offices set aside a separate systems room, where the employees can attend to personal work like buying travel tickets, buying groceries and paying bills– as these tasks are also a matter of importance to the employee and may affect employee’s productivity if required to handle in person.
Some best practices suggested with adopting Social Media advise employers to set the rules on the use of social media with specific disciplinary measures in each case and processes to monitor employees effectively and enforce the rules diligently. Employers were to decide if employees could befriend co-workers, clients and competitors or not.
Not anymore! The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is keen to eliminate the so-called ‘Facebook Firings” and protect the rights of employees to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations and collective bargaining under Section 7 of the NLRA. Workers engaging in activity to better their conditions of employment, including soliciting co-workers to join a union, discussing poor working conditions or unfair wages with each other, appealing to the public regarding workplace plights, etc. will continue to be a “protected, concerted activity”, even on social media.
Read on to find out more about the unlawful clauses in your social media policy and remove or revise them at the earliest possible.
The NLRB did not find fault with rules which advised that employees should desist from:
As we go along, the exploding use of social media will continue to be a challenge to monitor or keep track of. Most employees who use social media and end up facing a ‘Facebook firing’ would frankly admit to being surprised by the final outcome.
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