Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can you hear me now? Don’t forget mobile devices in your social media policy

You think you’ve crafted the perfect social media policy for your employees. You let employees have the freedom to engage in limited and reasonable social media from work, yet use server-side software to spot-monitor their activities just in case things get out of hand. Your company Internet also blocks grossly inappropriate content, such as pornography. Yet, your policy is missing one key component ... mobile devices.

According to a recent report by the Pew Internet Project (c/o Mashable), more U.S. adults have a smartphone than a college degree. 35% of surveyed adults reported that they own a smartphone, and of those people 87% use their smartphones as an Internet device. Moreover, smartphone adoption is set to grow an additional 45% this year alone. (GigaOm). Smartphone use is approaching a critical mass in our society.

What are these smartphone owners doing with their devices at work? If a recent survey published by TechNewsDaily is to be believed, they are accessing websites they wouldn’t ordinarily visit from their workstation PCs:

  • 52% look for a new job
  • 47% watch pornography
  • 37% research embarrassing illnesses or conditions

In light of these stats, if your social media policy is written as an outright ban on the use of social media in the workplace, that policy is not workable. Moreover, if your social media policy does not account for smartphone use, it has a gaping hole that you need to fill immediately.

If you want to learn more about these issues, I cannot more strongly recommend picking up a copy of HR and Social Media: Practical and Legal Guidance, which (God willing) finally will be published and available for purchase this week. I’ll have more information as soon as it is launched.

You should also check out a special two-part edition of Stephanie Thomas’s Proactive Employer Podcast, during which Seth Borden (Labor Relations Today; @SHBorden), Molly DiBianca (Delaware Employment Law Blog; Going Paperless; @MollyDiBi), Eric Meyer (The Employer Handbook Blog; @Eric_B_Meyer), Phil Miles (Lawffice Space; @PhilipMiles), Rob Radcliff (Smooth Transitions; @robradcliff), Dan Schwartz (Connecticut Employment Law Blog; @danielschwartz), and I will discuss all things social media and HR (and promote our new book at the same time). Part 1 airs on BlogTalkRadio at 8:30 AM on Friday, July 22; part 2 at 8:30 AM on Friday, July 29. Both installments will be available for on-demand listening at The Proactive Employer and via iTunes.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.