Social media is becoming a driving force in the lives of everyday people. When social media crosses the threshold of the workplace though, it can bring a host of new problems and dilemmas that must be dealt with. That’s why it’s important for companies – large and small – to take the time now to establish effective and efficient policies concerning social media in the workplace.

The Social Media Code of Conduct

Failing to establish a certain “code of conduct” or system of responsibility when it comes to social media and computing can result in a huge number of lost man hours and an unacceptable representation of your business by some employees. By establishing these rules, there is no room for argument if social networking activities ever do become a problem for your business.

Consider implementing these policy changes as quickly as possible for the sake of your business and productivity.

1)   Social networking is only allowed during sanctioned breaks, before work, or after the work day has been completed. This isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are plenty of monitoring software and/or filtering options regarding social networking during business hours that have proven to be very successful.

2)   Set specific policies as to how social networking is to be used when on business property. Make sure all employees sign documentation acknowledging that they know how and when social media can be used in the workplace. Creating a significant paper trail that states, without a doubt, that the message was given to and received by the person in question leaves no room for discussion or disagreement later on.

3)   Establish a clear pattern of enforcement for the social media policies you’ve put into place and follow it across the board. If you believe a policy a bit too harsh, change it until you see harsher penalties are warranted. Just be sure to change policies before you gain a reputation of being unable to commit or enforce.

The real key to remember is that no plan is better than the person least likely to enforce it. These policies may be a big departure for some companies that are typically more lenient when dealing with employees who break the rules. Be consistent when creating and enforcing rules about social networking, as well as all other rules within the company.

Having a policy in place helps employees understand their social networking limits at work. Whether intentional or not, social networking on the company dime could become a huge problem for your business. Your employees will respect you for recognizing that. The sooner you create a plan to combat the potentially overpowering burden social networks can create for your business, the faster you’ll be able to focus on the products and services your business does best.

Get more tips on handling social media responsibly in the workplace by reading Social Media 101: Make Friends, Not Fans in Recruiting Efforts !

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