Companies should think twice before creating social media policy

The growing trend among employers to enforce company-wide social media policies has sparked the birth of the Password Protection Act of 2012. The new legislation prevents companies from requiring employees to provide access to their personal social networking accounts. While many companies may create a social media policy to protect their corporate reputation, a new Workplace Options and Public Policy Polling survey of American workers shows that companies who scrutinize their employees' personal accounts and social media activity may be doing more harm than good. 

In general, respondents agree that social media policies in the workplace are necessary; however, their opinions quickly change once these policies become overbearing. The poll results, released by Workplace Options, show there is a fine line between companies having a social media policy and social media policies that are too intrusive.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents stated that employers have no right to demand personal social networking passwords. And, 68% of respondents said that forcing employees to hand over passwords to their personal accounts would harm employer-employee relations.                                  

"Companies should protect themselves and their employees by setting clear expectations on proper social media use in the office," says Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options. "However, employers must be cautious of how far they take these regulations. While social media policies themselves are not a problem, survey results shows that employees do not support any intrusive measures, such as demanding access to passwords."                

Only 31% of respondents work for a company that currently has a social media policy. Even if there is a policy in place, only one in four people (25%) use social media applications during the work day. Regardless, the majority of respondents (72%) reported that they never check social media during work hours.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         "With the recent increase in technology and social media use, we anticipate more and more employees will be using social media at work, and more companies will begin creating social media policies," Debnam added. "It will be important for employers to be mindful of the guidelines put in place, striking a balance between necessary regulations and intrusive demands."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.