Employees are social networking in droves. And their online activities can have a direct impact on their employers. So why don’t more employers have social-networking policies to address the many potential issues that can arise in cyberspace? If your organization hasn’t yet adopted and implemented an effective social-networking policy, you may want to consider why this is before trying to tackle the problem internally.
A Social-What-Working Policy?
I’ll boldly venture that the number one thing holding back organizations from working towards a social-networking is good old-fashioned ignorance. At a seminar for HR professionals in 2005, we polled the audience and learned that approximately 5 of the more than 100 attendees actually knew what a blog was. I’m sorry to say that most of my clients still aren’t familiar with the world of blogs or social-networking sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn. If you don’t know what it is, you’re not likely to feel a pressing need to regulate it in great detail. This is especially true when ignorance of the subject matter is directly linked to ignorance of the potential impact (positive and negative) of the medium.
Avoidance By Committee
One sure-fire way to avoid having to implement any kind of policy is to require the policy to first pass the approval of a committee. Hiring Committee. Technology Committee. Glee Club Committee. It’s irrelevant which one the policy must get through–so long as it’s a committee, it probably won’t go anywhere at all. A committee guarantees that there will be someone who doesn’t “get it”–even if most members actually are familiar with social networking.
If We Ignore It. . .
No, it won’t go away. But lots of people surely hope this is the case. Here are some comments you’re likely to hear if this problem is preventing the implementation of an effective policy: “Technology is changing so rapidly. If we wait it out, it will work itself out;”. or “By the time we get a policy drafted, the technology will already have changed and our policy will be outdated.” Oh come on, now! Intelligent professionals certainly can draft a policy that is grounded in principles and values that are deeply ingrained in the organization’s culture and not, therefore, likely to change any time soon.
Put your thinking caps on, soldiers! You can do it!