Contributed by Director of Strategic Planning & Development, Kathy Olek Donatelli
A clear and concise social media policy seems pretty sensible for every business. But how many of you can lay your hands on one? If so, do you know what it says? What about a corporate ethics policy? A communication policy?
As the lines between “personal and professional” as well as “home and office” continue to blur, many companies are revamping their corporate guidelines across the board to reflect today’s electronically active and collaborative workforce. Yet another reason for this recent focus is mobile access and the ability to work from home. As employees are increasingly using their own mobile devices at work, as well as working from home and in the field, companies need to find a way to guide and focus communications activities. And although words like policy, compliance, and guidelines may sound limiting and daunting to some, many of these documents exist to protect both the employee and the company alike. More than anything else, policies help to set expectations and provide examples of what is and what is not acceptable. They are your first point of reference if there is ever any question about your actions.
And if the entire electronic communication conundrum is not difficult enough, now we have an entirely new generation of tech savvy multi-taskers. Enter stage right the Millennials, making up the majority of our workforce now and into the future. They were born with a smart phone in their hand and as a generation, they move fast, they love change and they are ready for any pop-up or crowd sourced opportunity. Now more than ever, corporate policies need to be in place to manage expectations and set standards among the greenest employees in the workforce.
Most formal policies address issues that may be perceived as unlawful and/or unethical, as well as those that undermine company, brand, employee, shareholder, vendor or and customer trust. Issues typically addressed in these policies include:
- Conflicts of Interest or Opinion
- Protection of Company Assets and Resources
- Criminal Conduct
- Protection of Confidential and Proprietary Information
- Intellectual Property
- Interaction with the Media and other Public Parties
- Compliance and Disciplinary Actions
The bottom line? Questions about social media, corporate ethics and communications policies should find their way into the interview process if you are just beginning with a new company. And if you are already working, a current copy of company policy is most likely available in the human resources department. These policies may not address (or provide final answers to) every possible issue or situation. General questions or issues you have about your company’s policies should be directed to your manager or Human Resources Department.
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Don’t be surprised if, as a requirement for continued employment, you will be required to resign and re-certify every two years, in writing, your statement of compliance with corporate policies. And make sure you fully understand the stated violations, disciplinary implications and resulting consequences so that your actions don’t come back to bite you in the butt. The bottom line? Be proactive and do your homework.