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Avoid These 6 Social Media Related Small Business HR Problems

Are you “Friends” with your employees?

Social Media is a tremendous asset to most businesses but can be a small business HR nightmare. Many states have implemented laws restricting employer access to employees’ personal accounts. Plus the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued decisions that protect employee rights to converse via social media on workplace conditions as this is viewed as a “protected concerted activity.”

However, you will be just fine if you apply a little common sense and the manners your mother taught you. Here are six pointers:

1. Don’t “friend” your employees.

As a manager, you can’t be a buddy to everyone. It is fine to ask about your employees’ children in the break room, but you don’t need to see their online pictures. Give your employees space and respect their privacy.

2. Don’t accept “friend” requests from your employees.

If an employee asks to be your “friend,” decline the invitation. There are other professional sites to network on such as LinkedIn. Remember, your employees need a manager, not another friend.

3. Have a Social Media Policy and review it often.

RELATED READING: How to Avoid These Six Common HR Nightmares

4. Don’t ask for passwords.

Never ask for the passwords to individual’s personal social media sites. Not only is this rude, but it is also illegal in many states.

5. Be careful when making hiring decisions.

During the hiring process, most employers will look up the candidates online. If their social media sites are open to the public, then you have a right to look. However, be careful with the information you find. For example, if you see a candidate is pregnant, that information can’t be used in the hiring decision. Discrimination laws are still in place, regardless of how you obtain the information.

6. Most importantly, have your HR department involved.

They are aware of the laws and the potential minefields; look to them for guidance. Social Media posts can be used in disciplinary matters, but consult with HR before proceeding.

Social Media is always evolving, and as an employer, you need to evolve with it. By following these best practices, you can reduce the company’s liabilities and hopefully use the online tools to increase your bottom line.


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Lee Yarborough

Lee Yarborough

Lee Yarborough and her father, Braxton Cutchin, founded the company in 1996. She has served on the Board of Directors of NAPEO and currently serves as the Chair for the NAPEO Carolinas Leadership Council. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Lee also serves on the Executive Board of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.