(Special guest post by Dawn Mentzer)
Employees can be among your best brand advocates, as their positive messages about your company reach their friends and followers on social media.
But their online activity can be the proverbial thorn in your side when it (intentionally or not) begins to reflect negatively on your company’s public image.
Consider the following plausible scenarios that could reflect badly on a business’s reputation:
Sales consultant Larry’s extracurricular escapades on Instagram
Tech support specialist Emma’s spirited political rants on Twitter
Overenthusiastic customer service representative Bill’s snaps about a confidential product enhancement that’s under development to 102 of his closest friends
Accounts payable clerk Lisa’s digs directed at a co-worker on Facebook
What can you do if employees’ online conduct is putting your company’s character in jeopardy? Is bad behavior online grounds for firing employees?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
In this article on the Monster blog, the attorneys interviewed share that employers need to proceed with caution. The National Labor Relations Board protects employees’ rights regarding off-duty conduct, and the laws on businesses’ rights to discipline employees for inappropriate online activity on their personal time vary from one state to the next. And every case is unique.
It’s tricky territory. But a reasonable start for business owners is to take to heart this idiom: the best offense is a good defense.
Companies that have a clear social media policy in place for their employees may have a better chance of avoiding issues and a stronger leg to stand on when someone goes against their wishes.
Small Business Social Media Policy Food for Thought
As with any HR policy and document that has potential legal ramifications, small business owners could run into trouble if they try to create a social media policy completely on their own. An HR professional and attorney can provide specifics about what restrictions a policy can or cannot not include.
Here are some considerations for business owners to mull over as they think about creating their social media policies.
A Business May Need Two Social Media Policies
One for employees who use social media for personal purposes and another for employees who manage the company’s social media accounts.
For the employees using social media for their personal purposes, there are two flavors of social media activity to address:
Using social media on company time
Posting about the company, the people who work there, and things that are happening at the company — during employees’ personal time.
What Guidelines for Social Media Use Do Businesses Include in Their Policies?
From several social media policies online, including those shared in a Hootsuite published blog post and on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website, some reminders made for employees are:
Online activity should not violate a company’s confidentiality policy.
Everything published online may never disappear; therefore employees are encouraged to act responsibly and appropriately.
Readers may view employees as spokespersons for the company.
Conduct that adversely affects job performance (of the employee or associates) or otherwise adversely affects those involved with the business may result in disciplinary action.
Some of the guidelines within the policies include language about:
Limitations on use of blogs, personal social media, social media monitoring tools, and e-commerce sites during business hours
Making it clear to readers that the views expressed are the employee’s thoughts and not necessarily those of the company
Thinking judiciously before forwarding emails that contain jokes, silly GIFs, urban legends and get-rich business opportunities
Being respectful to the company, fellow team members, customers and competitors
Responding to or contacting the media
Respecting financial disclosure laws
Refraining from disclosing your location by checking into apps when visiting prospective and current clients
Understanding and not divulging company confidential or legally sensitive information on social media
This is just a sampling of what a social media policy might cover. Depending on the type of business a company conducts, the guidelines may need to be less or more extensive. Business owners can help ensure their policies don’t violate employees’ rights or otherwise put their companies at risk by getting guidance and feedback from an HR professional and attorney.
Social Media and the Legal Landscape are Continually Evolving
With the certainty that new platforms will enter the digital playing field and existing systems will add new features and functionality comes the uncertainty of what hurdles lay ahead. Companies will continue to face the challenge of creating policies that minimize the risk of employees hurting their brand reputation but don’t violate employees’ rights or discourage them from serving as loyal brand ambassadors.
Dawn Mentzer is a contributing writer for Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing agencies in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. As a solopreneur and freelance writer, she specializes in marketing content — and collaborates with clients nationally and globally.
Image source – https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/101/296747958_8c15e91e3f_b.jpg
If you are a student and trying to hold down a job at the same time, there is no denying that it can be incredibly difficult. You can feel like you have no time to yourself and it can often feel like your life is spiraling out of control.
You don’t want to let your employer down, yet you need to pass your exams with flying colors. So, how do you go about balancing these two important elements of your life? Well, if you can avoid the mistakes mentioned below, that would be a brilliant start…
Ignoring the option of taking an online course – This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. They assume that online courses are of a lesser quality, or that they don’t mean as much when it comes to the individual’s credentials. However, this could not be further from the truth.
Online courses are just as valuable. After all, it is the accreditation you get at the end that matters, not how you got it. Moreover, online courses, such as online nursing MBA courses, are ideal for those attempting to juggle a job at the same time. You will be able to study during hours that are convenient for you. Plus, you won’t waste time by having to commute to and from university every day.
Failing to keep your boss in the loop – A lot of employees do not want to tell their boss about their academic studies for several reasons. One reason is that they fear it shows a lack of commitment on their behalf and that it will not go down very well with their boss. Another reason is that they are worried it indicates they are going to be looking for another job once their studies are finished, and so they may end up being replaced.
You certainly shouldn’t fret about matters like this. In fact, it will be much better if you tell your boss about your studies. You will find that most managers are supportive.
They will be happy for you to take time off to study so long as you make up for it by working later or coming to work early during other days.
Using your holiday days for actual holidays – Yes, your holiday days are designed to give you a break from work. However, when you are attempting to study at the same time, you should be using your holidays for study breaks.
Now would be a good time to find out how many days off you have available. You should then book these days off close to your exams so that you can fit in some extra study time. Yes, no one wants to use his or her holiday days for something boring like studying, but it is vital!
Failing to take a strategic study day – You need to take a strategic study day before every exam. This means that you assign at least one day in the week leading up to your exams to studying and nothing else. This will ensure you feel less stressed in the run up to your test.
You are not prioritizing your health – You are never going to get anywhere if you make yourself ill and you have to spend a week in bed. Yes, it can be difficult to look after number one while you have so many other things to worry about. However, if you do not get enough rest and you don’t eat right, your body is going to shut down on you, and this could cost you much more in the long run.
So, make sure you are getting the required amount of sleep, and that your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs. If you do this, you will not only ensure your health and well being, but you will find that you are a lot more productive too.
You are not making the most of every minute of the day – In order to balance work life and study life effectively, and take care of your health too, you need to make the most of every spare minute you have available. For example, if you are waiting to pick your children up from school, why not watch a YouTube study tutorial on your phone? You should also carry flash cards with you at all times so that you can make the most of any spare moments you have available.
Your daily commute is another part of the day that should be maximized in terms of studying. If you are driving, you can listen to audiobooks or a recording of you speaking your study notes. You should also record lectures and listen to them in the car. Turn the speed up to 1.5x so you can take in more information during your drive.
You aren’t making a sacrifice – In order to study effectively while holding down a full time job, you are going to need to make a sacrifice. For example, if you are someone who watches television on an evening, you should sacrifice one hour of this time so that you can study instead. You will never achieve your goals if you do not make adjustments in other areas of your life.
If you can avoid the errors that have been mentioned above, you will give yourself the greatest chance of balancing your work life and study life effectively. There is no denying that is challenging, and it won’t be plain sailing along the way. You will need to make sacrifices, and though it will be trying from time-to-time, in the end, when you ace your exams, it will be more than worth it.
It’s true that an online education isn’t the best option for everyone, but did you know that a lot of students thrive in an online environment? Here are some reasons why online education might be the right route for you.
When you study online, you are given the chance to choose from a huge variety of schools and programs as well. There is a chance that you don’t live anywhere near schools that offer the course that you want, or even courses that you are interested in. This is especially the case if you live in a rural area, so online courses can give you the chance to really expand your bank of knowledge.
Take a masters in public safety course for example. It’s an essential degree for a huge range of jobs, yet not many universities have it available for their students.
When you opt for an online education, it can give you a level of flexibility that cannot be compared to a standard university setting. You can find an online program that works around your schedule, and some courses give you the chance to set your very own weekly schedule as well.
If you struggle to stay organized when it comes to getting work in on time or even when taking your books to university, you don’t have to worry about this at all because when you study online, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.
Students who enroll in an online education usually end up meeting people from all around the world. When studying online, you don’t have to feel isolated at all and can even work with other people as well to try to get your studies done.
You can develop excellent references by doing this and also benefit from the huge range of educational resources that are available.
Online education is usually much cheaper when compared to traditional schooling. Virtual programs are ideal, and if you are an adult who is looking to go back to university then they are a great choice. They are also a great choice if you already have some student debt, because usually you pay one flat fee and then the rest of the course is paid for.
Most online educational programs give you the chance to work at a pace that suits you. A lot of students love this because it means that they don’t have to follow the traditional pace of the other students. It also means that they can study at their own pace without getting left behind or even bored with the existing material.
So, online education is certainly a brilliant way for you to really make the most out of your education options, and you just might be surprised at how easy it is for you to benefit from everything that they have to offer. Not only are online courses very affordable, but they are a great way for you to step things up to that next level while also enhancing your career prospects for the future.
Running a business is a dream that so many people hold. It’s one of those things that makes society great to be able to follow your dreams and be your own boss. Being a valuable asset to the economy is also a title of prestige that we want to hold. This can cause us to think of a business as some kind of machine that somehow works together to bring us forward to this place in life.
The truth is that businesses are like living organisms; they all functions due to one component that is more complex than anything else inside the moving internals. The human being behind the desk, behind the paperwork, behind the different levels of research, production, testing, sales and future plans is what keeps a business afloat and prosperous.
Small business owners around the world think about meeting deadlines and targets, pushing their employees to work harder, faster and for longer and longer hours. We don’t often realize that by showing leadership that actually treated employee growth, the business would automatically grow itself; you may even fire up the afterburners if done correctly. This is why forging a cohesive team is so vital to becoming adaptable and strong.
Image by Pixabay
Realizing Individual Strengths
When hiring an employee, the basic criteria is to meet the required qualifications, experience, expertise, and possibly possessing that spark of genius that only be described as raw talent. Of course, this is how you should be hiring because these are the foundational aspects of each employee. Staff have to be competent, and at the interview process, you can only judge this by how successful they have been in the past, how their character and skills have developed, and it goes without saying their professional standard qualifications.
However, when it comes to employees in the workspace, soon you’ll realize that despite their brilliance on paper, they have a lot of growing to do. Every single business is different, so you should be making your own standards or which the people you hire should adhere to. It’s vital to, therefore, assess each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. You should know who can do what, who has more of a positive attitude, their time management skills, their ability to think on their feet, and also their individual leadership skills—to name a few.
When you can form an employee profile based on this, you have started the ball rolling for creating a team that has both yin and yang; a team that has members that can close the gap of each other’s shortfalls.
Forming A Hierarchy
Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do in business is to able to read people. It’s not quite on the same level as national politics, but politics do play a part in how you form a hierarchy. Every business needs one; there can be no uncertainty about who is doing what, and who is reporting to who. Otherwise, it’s just chaos with no clear direction.
Usually, when this kind of decision-making conundrum is figuratively at your front door, and suddenly you hear the knock of firm but fair leadership calling your name; it’s at the beginning of a business’ life. However, this can and should be done whenever you feel as if things aren’t moving in the right direction or how fast you would like them to.
Alway, always create the hierarchy of superiors based on two things alone. One, the ability of the person regardless of race, gender or age. Two, their thought process and how much in tune they are with your mindset, your vision of what the business should be. You must violently shun any emotional responses that come into your mind.
Promoting friends who have less ability and vision than a stranger will almost always end in disaster. Put the best person for the job in the role of a manager, who will lead a section of employees in the various departments of your business. This person will not only lead, but will transfer your orders and wishes to the team, and have the responsibility to then meet targets.
Photo by JuralMin
Helping Everyone to Stay on Board
The world of business is head-spinning, always moving quickly. This is no more so in the world of small businesses, enterprises and entrepreneurship. It’s vital that each employee has modern tools at their disposal, coinciding with your wishes, to keep up with whatever is going on. Just think about the many memos, invoices, updates, notifications, reminders, briefs, tasks, guidelines, and other documentation you will constantly be giving your employees.
On top of this, organizing events, meetups, conferences etc. keeps the schedule of you and your employees packed all year round. Running a smooth ship is by far one of the most overlooked aspects, so many small business owners are guilty of. But, with modern technology right at everyone’s fingertips, there is no excuse why you shouldn’t be able to keep all your employees reading from the same page and attending meetings on time and at the right place.
Think about employing free scheduling software that is easy to use as an administrator, and even easier to distribute among your staff. So much communication happens on the cloud, i.e. online storage servers, and it’s easy to see why. By each of your employees setting up an account on these various websites, they can access documents that have been shared to them by the managers on the floor whom you are distributing your orders and target ambitions through.
Of course, there will be different software for different tasks, with some more oriented toward numbers, figures and statistics like Microsoft Excel, and others like Sling that can create timetables. It’s up to you how you use them, but one thing is for sure: because they’re online, every employee who adheres to your documents is therefore in sync. This allows the team to move forward in one united front.
Allow Creativity and Individuality to Sparkle
The silent and invisible binding glue that keeps the lowest ranking employee to not conjure a resentment toward his or her superiors is the ability to inject their own creativity at work. We’ve all been there, where you’re the lowest on the totem pole either because of skills and need, or holding an entry-level position and you feel unappreciated. A good business person will acknowledge the fact that leaders in their business are few, and followers are plenty in number.
In order to get the best out of your employees who act as the day-to-day workers in their departments, it’s important to allow their individuality to shine. Of course, it’s a little awkward because you don’t want them to be totally free to do whatever they like, so you must choose the right time and set the correct parameters for this to occur.
For example, if someone in your marketing department, or sales, or research has an idea that is not detrimental either in derailing the main goals of your business or in the eating up of resources, then allow them to explore further. Don’t forget that small businesses are where innovation beams the brightest, so don’t be afraid to accept new ideas.
When there are meetings that are either departmental or as a whole business, there should be a section for questions and answers. Don’t just bark orders at your team and think of yourself as so high and mighty that you expect them to shut up and do as they’re told. Lead with a firm hand, but not as a tyrant dictator. Allow junior staff to explain their ideas and how they think the processes could be improved.
Every department has their own modus operandi, and it’s just how people of different natures, expertise, and sub-group professional cultures are. Don’t repress this and try to turn everyone into a bland robot.
Playing by the Same Rules
One of the lesser areas that small businesses should also be looking at is fairness regardless of rank. One of your company ethos should be rules or codes of conduct guidelines. All staff members should have a copy available to them, so they know what is and isn’t permissible, along with what is expected of them in the workplace.
As the leader and owner of the business, you should be wary and watchful of who is not abiding by these rules. More often than not, junior staff will be more likely to keep within the boundaries of operations and be more ethically aware. It’s unfortunate to admit sometimes, but power does corrupt.
This is why you should openly exert an attitude of holding managers, board members, and junior staff all to the same standard. If anyone breaks a rule or does something that is provocative that you do not agree with, it’s wise to punish that individual in a way that lets everyone else know that you are not afraid to lay down the law no matter what seat you sit on in the hierarchy.
Forging a cohesive team will unlock the power your business needs to succeed and champion your competitors. People are the engine of business. Being able to command respect and wield authority over your employees is incredibly important and must not ever be overlooked or underestimated.
However, with this in mind, you should allow creativity to be expressed from junior staff, form a hierarchy based on skill rather than personal relationships, help everyone stay up-to-date with online software, and realize the strengths and weaknesses of your employees.