That’s the basic point of the South African law firm Bowman Gilfillan, and it’s associate Lenja Dahms-Jansen. In a statement released to the news outlets in SA, she asserts that firms would benefit from a sound social media policy. “In order to strike the appropriate balance between the conflicting rights of an employer and its employees, HR (human resources) practitioners should collaborate with management in outlining a social media strategy and policy for the business, Ms. Dahms-Jansen said.
Having a social media policy is a form of risk management that protects any company in the event of a lawsuit. That’s a particularly keen point to make when considering that, as Dahms-Jansen pointed out, employees insulting one-another via social media is a common problem.
That reminds me of the case of The San Francisco Chronicle and City Brights Bloggers. The comments section, a form of social media if there ever was one, was regularly littered with vile, and occasionally racist and sexist comments. A blogging colleague once told me that some of those comments were the product of Chronicle staff reporters who didn’t like that the company was courting the work of “unpaid” bloggers – I made a way for myself to be paid, in that case, via better exposure for my YouTube videos.
If the SF Chronicle and Hearts Newspaper had a social media policy, it didn’t cover the elimination of such behavior.
“The CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] has accepted that derogatory remarks made about an employer on an employee’s personal social media profile may justify dismissal,” Dahms-Jansen said.” A clear-cut social media policy should serve to considerably minimise the risk of industrial and public relations crises as well as litigation, by ensuring that the boundaries pertaining to online conduct are known, understood and acknowledged by each employee.”