The Wall Street Journal wrote a big article about this topic in their print edition on May 12, and honestly, we should have put it out there sooner, because it’s a big topic for employers, not only in the hiring of new employees, but also in monitoring existing employees.
In some cases, our members have found employees saying negative things about the company on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. Time taken by employees, unless it’s in off-hours to post negative things about one’s employer makes us wonder why the employer hired them in the first place, although all employees are entitled to bitch a bit from time to time.
We also think that if any employee is saying negative things on any public social media site, it’s their right to do so, but since the sites are pretty much public, they forfeit their rights to privacy. Same thing with new hires: why would you want to hire someone who’s said bad things about your company?
There is also the camp that says employers don’t have the right to snoop on employees social media habits, even though employers do have the legal right to look in on employees social media habits. Whether they have the duty to look in on social media usage might engender fishing expeditions into non-workplace issues, possibly exposing the employer to a lawsuit.
The Journal article doesn’t address the issue of lost productivity, by either the pro or con sides, but that’s an issue if employees are using social media on company time, and they’re on salary. On lunch hours or after hours, employees have the right to do what they want. You as the company owner aren’t big brother.
And, there is the possibility that employees might be on social media because of their jobs, which if they’re in retail, could make sense. And, they might be forging business relationships on Linked In.
So, all in all, we would advise interviewing prospective and existing employees about social media usage, and developing an employee policy on it, which you of course put into your employee handbook, which of course you have. Whether we develop a course on it depends on the comments that we get, so have at it.