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If you’re a medium-to-large sized business, by now your HR person has probably included a social media policy in the employee handbook. The selection of social media policies I just linked to set a strong example of current best practices; However, even the samples I found may not be adequate in the face of recent legal proceedings. Considering current events, now might be a good time to give your existing social media policy a second look. So, what happened?
The case I’m referring to involved Chipotle’s firing of an employee due to his posts on Twitter, which the company said violated their social media policy. Some of the employee’s tweets were found to be protected speech, since they involved complaints against the company’s labor and wage policies. For their trouble, Chipotle got a lot of bad press and likely endured some substantial legal costs.
Let’s take a look at how this could have been handled differently.
Your Employees Are On Social Media, Too
When it comes to staying relevant and visible, ignoring social media is no longer an option. Having a presence on at least one social platform is the modern equivalent of listing yourself in the phone book. In the last few years, social engagement has shifted from something that the go-getters and savvy marketers do, to a fundamental first step in owning and operating just about any business. However, most businesses are still overlooking a sleeping giant: A recent survey found that only around 33% of employers encourage employees to share their work experience on social media.
Let that sink in, for a moment… Two thirds of employers aren’t recognizing the potential of engaging with their employees through social media.
In fact, it looks like some employers are moving in the opposite direction: Actively suppressing their employees’ ability to talk about work on social media. While most companies are busy being afraid of what their employees will say online, others are taking a different path. The savvy go-getters are doing the exact opposite.
Build Bridges, Not Walls
Want to know why so many companies can’t keep up with Apple? It’s because they compromise, have meetings, work to fit in, fear the critics and generally work to appease the lizard. Meetings are just one symptom of an organization run by the lizard brain. Late launches, middle of the road products and the rationalization that goes with them are others.
We wrote about brave social media customer service not long ago. Businesses that are afraid to listen to their biggest critics (which are potentially their own workers) are missing the point! What if Chipotle had responded to that employee’s tweets publicly by following the steps that Darcy outlined in that post? Hold on, let me tweak that process a bit, since we’re dealing with employees and not customers:
- Listen – Read between the lines. What is the employee really saying? If their information is incomplete, work on some follow-up questions that you can reply with publicly.
- Stop – Don’t let your lizard brain do the talking. Delay your response, take a few deep breaths, and get ready to collect some more information.
- Research – Genuinely look into the employee’s complaint. Find the data and the facts that you need to show that you really put in some effort.
- Drop – “Drop the prideful, defensive and harsh response. Let a trusted co-worker or friend read through your response before posting. Remember, taking the high road is rarely a bad idea.” -Wade Lombard
- Roll – Roll with the punches. Go with the flow. Nobody said this was going to be easy!
- Save – Document the entire interaction and keep it in the employee’s file, in case it comes up again down the road.
This is a starting point for a comprehensive employee engagement strategy. Are you or one of your employees passionate about engaging with staff? Identify that person and put them in charge of increasing employee engagement on social media. Encourage employees to share what they’re doing at work and tag the company in their post, then find those posts and take part in the conversation!#employeeengagement The truth is, everyone on your team is a potential salesperson! Click To Tweet
Take It A Step Further
From company-wide retreats and town hall meetings to employee surveys and internal social media platforms, there are a wide range of tools at your disposal. Employees that feel they’re being heard and that feel at ease discussing their work on social media, can turn into the strongest advocates for your business. The truth is, everyone on your team is a potential salesperson (and recruiter!) that can get your name out there in a positive light. Even if you end up getting the occasional complaint, responding to a dissatisfied employee with tact and transparency can only serve to cast a positive light on your business.