The HR Specialist

@Twitterers: Watch what you tweet! @Videographers: Grow up!


Employees do the darnedest things, and it’s often up to HR to clean up the resulting mess. Better to have prevented it in the first place.

Two recent news stories point out problems that could have been stopped with simple policies on use of technology in the workplace. With the right handbook lingo, much corporate embarrassment could have been avoided.

Item No. 1:
A high-profile public relations executive landed in Memphis and promptly posted on his Twitter account, “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here.’”

The problem:
Memphis is home to FedEx. FedEx is one of the PR exec’s largest clients. Oops. Needless to say, FedEx reps were not amused.

Item No. 2: Two employees at a North Carolina Domino’s pizza delivery store were bored one evening. Kristy Hammond whipped out her cell phone, which has video capabilities. While Hammond filmed, Michael Setzer stuck a piece of cheese up his nose and then placed it on a sandwich soon to be delivered to a customer. Sensing their shot at Internet fame, the two geniuses then posted the footage on YouTube.

More than half a million hits later, Domino’s had a viral gross-out PR nightmare on its hands and the North Carolina Division of Public Health at its doorstep.

(If you’re so inclined, you can still see Hammond and Setzer’s antics on YouTube. Note that Setzer does some other unsavory stuff to the defenseless sandwich, so maybe you don’t want to watch this too soon before or after lunch.)

In an ideal world, both of these incidents would be covered by a policy reading, “For gosh sakes, people, use your heads!”

But behavior is easier to legislate than common sense, which means crafting policies that rein in how employees may use technology on the job. Domino’s, for example, told USA Today that it is now considering a policy to ban the use of video equipment in its stores.

Last week we brought you general tips on regulating employee postings in personal blogs and social media sites like Facebook.

Since then, we’ve come across some sage guidance specific to employees who use Twitter. It comes courtesy of the Society for Human Resource Management:

  • Don’t let personal use of Twitter or other social networking sites interfere with work.
  • Employees must get company approval to use Twitter to conduct business. (Note: This isn’t far-fetched. Many organizations have successfully incorporated Twitter into their marketing strategies.)
  • Any use of the organization’s name, trademarks, logos or other intellectual property must be approved.
  • If employees make personal comments about any aspect of the organization’s business, their profiles must carry a disclaimer that the views expressed are their own, and not the organization’s.
  • Tweets may not disclose confidential or proprietary information.
  • Employees should use common sense about what they post.

And, of course, please do feel free to develop policies elsewhere in your handbook that prohibit illegal, dangerous or just plain nasty activities.

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