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Why many businesses need employee social media policies

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Employment Law

Social media has become a common feature of daily life. Many people begin their day by checking on their preferred social media platforms. They likely share both minor daily experiences and major life events with others online.

People often share the good news with others online when they receive a job offer. They may also turn to social media to complain about their work grievances. Many modern employers now have social media clauses in their contracts or social media policies in their employee handbooks. These policies limit how the worker references the brand online or connects to the company in a public manner.

Why may employers need to concern themselves with what workers say and do online?

Workers can disparage a business

Even if a company treats its workers with dignity and respect, it is human nature to find flaws in one’s daily experiences. Workers might make allegations that they receive unfair treatment based on medical issues, their sex or other protected characteristics. Especially if a worker loses their job or gets passed over for a promotion, they could say negative things about a company online. Social media policies can prevent workers from actively disparaging a business on the internet.

Workers can share trade secrets

Another reason that companies may want to implement a worker social media policy is to protect against intellectual property infringement. Employees might have access to a client list, details about production processes or recipes that give a company a competitive advantage. Sharing such information online could deter customers from coming to a restaurant if they can make dishes and sauces at home. It could also give competitors an opportunity to take over a company’s market share. Social media policies can protect companies from a leak of trade secrets.

Workers might behave poorly online

Some companies go so far as to insist that workers do not identify their employers on social media. They do this to protect against the backlash that may come from an individual’s misconduct in real life or on the internet. Digital sleuths are often quick to identify someone’s place of employment and to flood that business with complaints or bad reviews over the conduct of an employee. All of these issues and more make social media policies valuable inclusions in modern employment contracts.

Businesses may need to rework existing employment contracts before hiring anyone new and modify existing arrangements with their current employees for optimal protection. Occasionally reviewing and updating employee contracts can help minimize the risk of liability that comes from hiring new talent.