January 28th, 2015 / Insight posted in Blog

2015: Will your Social Media Policy quickly become out of date?

By Dinah Regan

According to an article I recently read on Forbes.com, one of the predicted trends for 2015 is total transparency in regards to what employees think and say about their employers; with this information being accessible not only by existing employees, but also by existing and prospective clients and prospective employees. 

It stands to reason when you think about it.  People just love to write an online review about everything they do, buy, watch, eat, wear and smell! (This list is not exhaustive!)  And people want to read these reviews and receive their information directly from the horse’s mouth.  This was demonstrated to me in no uncertain terms when ordering Christmas presents online last month and I saw that someone had actually taken the time to write a review on a pair of socks!  (Apparently the ‘cotton rich’ are much better than the ‘wool rich’ as they are cooler and less itchy!)

Sites like Trip Advisor are here to stay (I must admit I wouldn’t book a holiday without a quick squizz on Trip Advisor first).  Near enough all online retailers provide the opportunity for buyers to review their products and this doesn’t look as though it’s about to change.

This prediction for the future raises quite a few questions:  how would you feel about your employees writing ‘reviews’ about your business?  Would you be confident of receiving a 5 star review?  How would this affect your business’ Social Media Policy?  And more importantly, what impact would this have on your current and prospective customers?

At the moment, I advise clients to include a clause in the Employment Agreement which restricts employees from making comments in the public domain without the permission of an appropriate ‘senior’ person in the organisation.  If employees are going to expect to be able to write ‘honest‘ reviews regarding their workplace and experiences, as they can when they buy a pair of socks, their thoughts will be public.  Or will it be like e-bay where you have to contact the seller first before writing negative feedback?  Either way, this development will undoubtedly turn most business’ current Social Media Policy on its head and may even mean creating new roles and processes to ‘vet’ the reviews.

On the positive side however, this movement would certainly force businesses to address issues raised by employees and ensure that their workplace is a happy one to be!  The businesses that are successful in this respect are likely to gain a competitive advantage in terms of sourcing top talent and thus providing superior goods and services.

Another potential problem might be a generational one.  It could be a huge issue if older employees did not have as much of a voice as their younger counterparts.  I’m sure the younger generations would welcome this change (according to Forbes they will be demanding it), feel empowered and make their voice heard, however, would the older folk be bothered to embrace this change as it’s not something they are used to doing in other aspects of their lives?

Lots of food for thought and I guess it’s a case of watching this space and keeping abreast of developments in this area and in the meantime, making sure your employees are happy ones that would give your business a 5 star rating!