12:50 PM
Terri Walker
Terri Walker

5 Steps to Successful Employee Social Media & Mobile Policies

Working in the banking industry presents unique challenges when it comes to confidentiality and compliance.

With the rise of mobile and social media within companies, between employees, and in general, employers need to be proactive about setting up policies to leverage the opportunities presented by increased connectivity and to avoid potential problems.

When preparing a social media and mobile communication policy for your employees, consider the following best practices.

Outline your company's goals with respect to the policy
Make sure employees understand why the policy exists. Use positive language and framing to tell employees that the policy exists for their own and the company's protection, and that it is not result of a lack of trust. Making the policy's implementation a positive experience will make employees more likely to want to comply.

Establish specific, easy-to-understand guidelines
As you draft your policy, use clear language that the average employee in your organization will understand. Cite specific examples of prohibited conduct to avoid confusion as to what constitutes unacceptable behavior. For instance, state how the policy is meant to prevent discrimination, harassment, and the disclosure of proprietary information. Similarly, provide examples of your company's preferred tone of voice and guidelines for grammar to ensure your employees represent the brand accordingly when talking about the company.

Images are worth 1,000 words
Employees may want to text images of the office to their friends, tag their colleagues in photos, or upload pictures of happy hour to their Twitter or Facebook account. Ensure that employees know which images are safe to share and which are not. Include visual examples of approved or unapproved images, and encourage employees to ask a manager if they are unsure whether an image can be shared. For example, some companies have strict policies about staff members appearing in bars or with a drink in hand while wearing the company logo.

Nothing is off the record
Remind employees that, in today's digital world, nothing is off the record. Anything from a tweet to a text can be shared in seconds. Even if employees' social profiles aren't linked to the company, an employee is always a representative of the company and therefore should not be sharing anything they wouldn't want an employer or client to see.

Be mindful of the National Labor Relations Act and other laws
Make sure that your policy does not violate the NLRA, the federal law that protects employees' right to engage in "concerted activities," including discussing the terms and conditions of their employment. For more information regarding the intersection of social media policies and NLRA rights, please see the National Labor Relations Board's most recent memos on the topic. Some states also prohibit employers from taking any sort of adverse action against employees for engaging in any legal conduct outside of work, so your policy should take into account any such laws that apply.

As with any procedural task, developing a social media and mobile policy can prove daunting. If you're uncertain of where to begin, seek advice from your HR team or an HR consultant. To ensure your policy falls within the lines of established laws, including the NLRA, seek counsel from an experienced labor and employment attorney.

An effective social media and mobile policy not only will set expectations but also will encourage your employees to contribute to the success and positive reputation of the company.


[Join the Women in Technology Panel & Luncheon at Interop on Wednesday, October 1. How different are IT career paths and opportunities for men and women in 2014? Join your peers for an open forum discussing how to advance in an IT organization, keep your skills sharp, and build a mentoring network.]

Terri Walker joined TriNet in 2006 and has 20+ years of human resources experience. She is a strategic, dynamic, accomplished leader and a human capital and organizational consultant with excellent problem solving and management skills. She has demonstrated success developing ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
User Rank: Author
9/17/2014 | 12:54:47 PM
Share with care
This advice is applicable not only to banks but any organization involved in social media, especially those that are just starting to work with social platforms. I like your second point - citing specific examples and writing in clear language help to ensure that employees understand, and stick to, a social policy. 
User Rank: Author
9/18/2014 | 12:48:46 PM
Positive Reincforcement
I like your first point here. These kinds of policies can easily devolve into "don't lists." That doesn't really inspire employees to follow the policies. If they understand the benefits, and realize that they are doing a good thing for themselves and their coworkers by following the policies, then that would definitnely work much better.
Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
9/18/2014 | 4:52:28 PM
Every time I'm about to post an image online, I scour it for something embarassing or sensitive. It's amazing how much content gets posted each day to the web that goes viral due to some minute detail or another.
Register for Bank Systems & Technology Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Bank Systems & Technology
BS&T's 2014 Elite 8 executives are leading their banks to success, whether it involves leveraging the cloud, modernizing core systems, or transforming into digital enterprises.
Bank Systems & Technology Radio
Archived Audio Interviews
Join Bank Systems & Technology Associate Editor Bryan Yurcan, and guests Karen Massey and Jerry Silva from IDC Financial Insights, for a conversation about the firm's 11th annual FinTech rankings.