Does your business have an Internet Usage Policy? Whether for better staff performance or to protect the image of your company, it is important to consider some usage guidelines.
Ultimately, the objective is to develop a document which will inform people within an organization what is allowed, what is not, and the consequences for insubordination.
The purpose of internal policy becomes evident when there are questions regarding an employee’s behavior. It’s hard to blame someone for spending too much time on social media or for publishing something that hurts the company brand if no clear guidelines were given.
Your internal policies do not need to to be drafted by a military general to be valid; you simply need to ask yourself some questions:
Is it permitted for employees to access social networking sites while on duty? If so, how much time per day is permissible, and what is the procedure in case of failure to comply?
What happens if an employee writes negative comments about your company? Do you offer access to a private forum where your employees can communicate their concerns, make suggestions and comments?
What happens in the case of harassment? When it is in the workplace, or what if it concerns an employee towards a client through social media? Does your present policy on harassment also take into account actions committed in private, after work hours on Facebook, for example?
What happens if one of your employees states on Facebook he/she works within your company, and that he/she posts messages of hate or racism?
There commonly are people who publicly condemn their “poor work conditions” on social media. I find it lamentable that employers do not intervene. There are also employees who consistently publish promotions and sales messages on their personal profile, which can actually harm the company brand.
5 Steps to Writing your Internal Policy:
Make a list of issues and fears you have concerning the use of social media by employees.
The issues and concerns can be different for each organization. A company can encourage employees to personally respond to comments on its business pages, while others opt for a single source of communication.
Consult employees for input on each of your points/regulations.
You do not want to create a list of regulations that would be too hard on staff morale, or which might end up being too challenging to manage. By having a consultation, it will allow everyone to agree on fair rules, and your employees will want to respect them.
Issue the Usage Policy for your employees, and determine an effective date.
Everyone in your organization should be aware that you will soon have an Internet Usage Policy in place. In the same way as your Absenteeism Policy, the new list of rules must be seen as part of the company’s Code of Ethics rather than a control tactic.
Make sure you have the necessary means of verification to respect policies.
Will you completely remove access to certain sites through your router settings? Or will you rely on the goodwill of your employees? Will there be people responsible to watch over the behavior of others? Or will you commit to a means of denunciation? Monitoring could add pressure on staff, while relying solely on trust can create friction between those who respect policies and those who may not.
Keep it up to date. Allow for changes and updates.
It is possible that changes will be necessary in the beginning in order to measure performance and to ensure healthy work conditions. You want to protect your brand and increase productivity without compromising the work environment.
Let’s discuss Internet Usage Policy for your business.