Policies and procedures were the words of the day when a women’s networking group gathered to discuss social media in the workplace.
The event, which was held at The Wealden Hall near Maidstone, saw the relaunch of Professionally Pink networking lunches, co-hosted by national audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill and Kent’s leading law firm Brachers.
Sarah Cundle, Director of Audit and Business Solutions at the Tunbridge Wells office of Crowe Clark Whitehill, which also has offices in Maidstone, said: “We have changed the format of our lunches to make them even more useful to attendees. Each quarter we will have a discussion topic which will be introduced by an expert and then debated in smaller groups, allowing people to really get to know each other and their businesses.”
Presenting ‘Social media in the workplace’, Louise Brenlund, Associate Solicitor at Brachers, said: “The use of social media is now common in almost every job meaning that employers must adapt. It is not enough simply to have a social media policy, employers need to clearly communicate the effect of the policy to staff and consistently apply it as issues arise.”
Giving four detailed examples of claims for unfair dismissal from employees who had been sacked for misconduct relating to their online activities, Louise asked the groups to decide whether they thought the claims were upheld or not.
The debate raised some interesting points about employees’ conduct when using sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Louise continued: “In many cases the decision will come down to a few factors: how serious was the misconduct; was the employee aware that he or she was in breach of the company’s social media policy; were there any mitigating circumstances; and what kind of disciplinary record did they have?
“A lot of people are surprised to find that even if Facebook settings are restricted to friends and family, depending on the circumstances, a tribunal may consider that the information has been provided to a wider public domain as information can be shared so easily. Even if employees do not specifically name the employer when using social media during working hours, they may still get into an awful lot of trouble.
“The lesson is to not only make sure your company contracts are sound, but also to make sure that social media policies are brought to employees’ attention and training is given.”
Sarah Cundle commented: “The presentation provided food for thought to all the businesswomen present, as well as some key practical recommendations on how they could improve their social media policies and therefore reduce their business risk.”
Professionally Pink is a forum for businesswomen in and around Maidstone, Kent. The next event will take place on 18 September.
For more information or to suggest a topic for future discussions, contact Emily Rushton from Crowe Clark Whitehill on 01892 700200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.