Companies Struggle with Social Media and Employee Discipline

    September 23, 2009
    Chris Crum

The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) have conducted yet another social media-related survey, finding that company policies have not yet caught up with the incredible growth in social media use among employees. The survey looked at what management is doing to manage employee social media use. How do you manage employee social media use? Talk about your strategy here.

"Business clearly hasn’t caught up with what its employees are doing online. The risks are two fold," says the SCCE. "First there remains the business risk of employees doing things online that may reflect badly on the company. The second is that, as business develops policies and procedures in this area there are going to be a lot of people finding that what they have long done is no longer acceptable at work. During the adjustment period there is likely to be a great deal of friction created."

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) said that an employee had been disciplined in their organization for activities on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, although the percentage was much higher for the not-for-profit sector (33%) than for the for-profit sector (13%).

Has Your Company Disciplined employees?

37% of respondents didn’t even know if there had been an incident leading to discipline in their organization, and 50% of respondents reported that their company doesn’t have a policy for employee online activity outside of the workplace at all. Of those that do have a policy, 34% include it in a general policy on online usage, and 10% specifically address the use of social networks.

Does your company have policies?

About half of the respondents said their companies don’t have an active monitoring system in place. An informal monitoring system was reported by 8%.

How is employee activity monitored?

"Ten years ago many businesses made the mistake of thinking that the Internet was a flash in the pan and would somehow go away," says the SCCE. "Companies and their compliance teams can’t make the same mistake with the social networking phenomenon. They need to understand it and think through whether they are going to regulate or, do what many have done including the SCCE and HCCA: figure out the proper way to embrace it by participating in it."

Of course, it is that figuring out that many companies are still struggling with. Another survey conducted recently by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education found that 86% of respondents use social technologies in one or more areas of business, but the majority of them are implementing them without measuring return-on-investment.

There are endless possibilities for businesses when it comes to how to use social media. Not all methods work for all businesses, and new strategies are emerging all the time. A company must think of social media as simply another channel, rather thats as a strategy itself, then measurement techniques can become clearer.

One thing that might help in a variety of strategies is the fact that social networks are generally offering more ways to track information now, with analytical tools. Two examples that come immediately to mind are YouTube Insights and Facebook Insights, which allow business owners to track the engagement related to their pages. Facebook even has clickthrough rates on the way as a metric.

The SCCE and HCCA’s full report is available for download (pdf) here.

Do you monitor the social media habits of your employees? Do you have ways of tracking your ROI in the social media channel? Discuss here.