Spying on employees by accessing posts on social networks has a number of negative consequences. Yet, a recent study by Gartner predicts 60% of companies expect they’ll monitor employees posts on social networks by 2015 — just a few short years from now. Most claim they’re monitoring to ensure cohesive brand management, assess sentiment over time, and reputation management.
Monitoring these aspects of your brand are a critical element of responsible social media management, regardless of whether the firm actively uses social media. But, there’s ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why monitoring your brand should mean spying on employees by accessing their posts in social media. In fact, spying on employees is likely illegal or will become illegal in the future. For instance, several states now ban company access to posts uploaded by prospective employees and it’s a violation of the terms of service of both Facebook and Twitter.
Let’s take a look at the consequences of spying on employees:
1. Poor employee moral
Face it. Spying on employees is very unpopular. Even employees who have nothing to hide find spying on employees unacceptable. In a large company, it’s hard to see the effect spying on employees has on moral because, often, no one is monitoring this important aspect of business performance, but employees perform better in an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect, and affection for the company they work for.
Unfortunately, too many firms STILL see employees as easily replaceable units — if one employee doesn’t work out, just hire another one. Of course, this overlooks the COST of hiring and training new employees. More importantly, it overlooks the role of employees in customer satisfaction. A customer greeted with a friendly smile by an employee who is knowledgeable and anxious to help is more likely to walk out with a purchase and keep coming back. Employees who feel a lack of trust and respect aren’t likely to treat customers this well.
Low moral also contributes to absenteeism and encourages your BEST employees to find somewhere else to work. Low employee moral also encourages workers to not work as hard, which is incredibly hard and expensive to fix with monitoring programs.
2. Turns your office into a witch hunt
Office politics is one of the more insidious aspects of business. In an environment where employers go around spying on employees, these politics increase. Employees now have an incentive to “turn in” fellow employees for something they posted on Facebook or Twitter to “get back at them” for getting a promotion or raise deemed unwarranted.
The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) recently issued statements regarding disciplinary actions against employees for posts on social networks. In a word — don’t do it. You CAN NOT discipline workers for statements about working conditions including hours, supervisors, tasks, etc. There’s actually a fine line between posts subject to discipline and those where discipline is illegal. Since you can’t act of these types of posts, spying on employees doesn’t have much benefit.
As I mentioned, spying on employees by asking for their login information is a violation of the terms of service for most social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Now, they’re not going to put you in jail for these rules violation, but Facebook might take out its wrath by deactivating your company Facebook page, which may have even more serious consequences than jail.
Having a social media policy drafted by a legal professional is a must. Our social media policy considers both legal issues, as well as management issues to keep you from being sued while optimizing the effectiveness of your social media and keeping employees and other stakeholders happy.
The social media policy is nearly complete — we’ve just made a few changes to comply with a recent NLRB ruling. And, we’ll update it, so as the rules change, your company stays in compliance. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about our social media policy.