The Facebook Five

During my presentation yesterday on social media in the workplace at RecruitTech I spoke briefly about the “Facebook Five” and felt I would expand on my comments here.

In summary six (it was five) NSW prison officers are being threatened with being fired over comments they made on a Facebook page “Suggestion to help Big Ron save a few clams”. This was at a time when the NSW was looking to sell of prisons to save some money.

The case went before the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) this week where the Public Service Association (PSA) filed an application asking the corrective services workers have the treats revoked. The workers are claiming that the comments were private and outside of work.

The PSA has also stated to the IRC that it intends to seek changes to the award to exclude out-of-work hours activities from being dismissible offences. The claim says:

“An employee shall not be the subject of any disciplinary action by reason of conduct that occurs outside working hours and which is intended by the employee to be private in nature”

However QUT Senior Lecturer Peter Black has commented, quite rightly, that can anything online be considered private:

There is certainly, I think an argument that it is a private conversation, however I think that probably ignores the reality of how these sorts of websites operate,

However because there is always a record kept of these sorts of conversations in an online environment, even where it is private, it is very easy for that information to get out beyond the wall.

Another interesting fact to consider is let’s define the work hours. If I answer work emails on a BlackBerry at home and then use the same device to post something on Facebook, was the post outside of work hours or not?

This case looks like it could be one begin to shape our employment laws around social media and the workplace.

RecruitTech Presentation

Today I gave a short presentation at RecruitTech in Canberra on Social Media in the workplace. The official bio was:

Many big organisations continue to block the use of social networking tools in the workplace, whilst others encourage their use.  But how much Facebook surfing and Twittering is too much?  This presentation weighs up the pros and cons of social media in the workplace and the impact of an organisation’s social media policy on its recruitment and retention.

Here are the slides from the presentation.

Social Media In the Workplace

Below are my notes for the talk I have given over the last week on social media in the workplace. I admit they do not flow as an essay as they supplemented my slides, hopefully you can derive my messages.

For nearly 20 years geeks have been operating in the backrooms of your organisations communicating across the Internet using tools such as Gopher, IRC, Usenet and HTTP. Then in 1994 Marc Andressen released Netscape Navigator into the world, since then it has never been the same.

Netscape allowed non technical people for the first time to graphically see not only documents on the Internet but also their relationships. This was the birth of the web as we know it today.

Everything on the web today has been built on these foundations. Including social media.
The first true social technology was the reply all button in email. As much as we often despise this feature for the first time it allowed people, through a single click of a button, to engage and collaborate with a large group of individuals. The first social gesture.

I have spent the last 2 and a half days at the Australasian Talent Conference where there was lots and lots of talk about social media and its impact on business, talent and the workplace. However most of the questions and comments tended to be we don’t understand it, it is a waste of time, we are ignoring it and where is the ROI. There is fear, uncertainty and misinformation amongst many of the leaders in business.

To help overcome these issues I will initially be spending time look at the foundations of social media before taking an trip in to using social media in the workplace.

Continue reading “Social Media In the Workplace”

Social Media in the Workplace and Policies

It is interesting how things align for the last few months I have been talking with FCB Workplace Lawyers about speaking at their breakfast series on social media in the workplace. The growth in discussion on this topic over the same period has been amazing. Last week FCB announced the details of these sessions 8th May in Sydney and 11th May in Melbourne, so if you want to know more come along.

My topic is loosly “Four sides of the same coin – How to keep brand managers, lawyers, employees and employers happy when engaging with social networking.” I plan to cover topics such as :

  • What is social media/web 2.0
  • Workplace risks and benefits of social media
  • How to manage and monitor it
  • How to safe guard your company’s brand
  • The risks of unknowingly extending corporate liability
  • Harrassment from online friends in the workplace
  • Bullying
  • Confidentiality issues

Following my talk there will be roundtable discussions on:

  • Social media: what does it mean for current workplace policies including developing a social media policy
  • Should you regulate the use of social media in the workplace?
  • Legal issues arising when recruiting with social media
  • Employers legal risks associated with employees using social media related to work

The sessions are free and you can register online for Sydney and Melbourne.

Social Media Policy (Again)

Just a quick comment. I have been reading some of the feedback to Telstra’s Social Media Policy on other blogs and news sites. One comment that keeps coming is that Telstra is essentailly applying old school thinking to a new world policy.

Well of course they are.

When you create policies they need to match the culture of your organisation. Just because it is a social media policy does not automatically mean it needs to be all hip and new.

Telstra is a large old corporate with government roots, hence their culture is still like that. Should the culture of Telstra change, well yes and then the policies will be updated to reflect that. I do know that there are many inside Telstra who are working very hard to change the culture and this policy is just one step in that process.

Telstra’s social media policy

Yesterday Telstra was the first major Australian corporation to publicly release it’s social media policy. Called guardrails to help employees navigate the world of social media the policy is defined around three concepts, the 3 R’s; Representing, Responsibility, and Respect.

After the last few weeks I think both employees, management and stakeholders at Telstra will be pleased to have a few boundaries. However as Stephen Collins said where are the boundaries in the policy? That said it is good to see companies coming forward with policies allowing others to learn.

As a bit of a review, let me compare the Telstra policy to my recommended best practices:

5 key areas:

  1. Provide rights for the participants and define their equitable treatment – Yes
  2. Protect the interests of all stakeholders, external and internal -Yes
  3. Define roles and responsibilities for implementation and operation – Yes it is covered but I would like more information on how the implementation will take place. 
  4. Define integrity and ethical behaviours of participants – Yes
  5. Cover disclosure and transparency – Yes

5 main messages:

  1. Stop & Think – Implied but not explicit
  2. Use your loaf – Yes
  3. You can always disclaim, but you cannot hide – Yes
  4. Keep it real – Yes
  5. Respect the channels – Yes

So all in all a good first release.

It might also be good for Telstra to reference some of the relevant legislation:

  • Copyright Act, 1968 (Cth)
  • Spam Act, 2003 (Cth)
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, 1998

It should be noted that Telstra is in no way the first Australian entity to release their policies online, The Powerhouse Museum did so in April 2007!