A friend of mine’s sister recently went through an ordeal at her work. An ordeal that I am completely opposed to and find a violation of her personal privacy. Let me paint you a picture without giving away any names (simply out of respect for my friend’s young sister). Let’s call the girl Anne.
Anne works for a major pharmacy chain here in Quebec. Recently, that pharmacy decided that, in order to assure themselves that their employees are in fact loyal, they would have them sign a document giving them full access to their Facebook accounts. The purpose: to make sure that they’ve never said anything negative against their employer or the chain itself. Anne realized right away that this was unacceptable. But with her refusal to sign the document came the threat of the loss of her job – the job at which she has worked for years and is putting herself through school with. Eventually, Anne gave in and signed the document, which permitted the brand to violate her privacy and go through whatever part of her Facebook account that they so pleased.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH BRANDS LIKE THIS??
It’s extremely frustrating to me to see this type of violation and, what I class as bullying, being committed in the work place.
Tell me something. Had the employer friended Anne and her fellow colleagues, would s/he not have had the same opportunity to browse through their timelines and look for any ill-intended comments regarding the brand?
A few years back Applebee’s attempted the same sort of scheme. They attempting to have their employees sign an agreement barring them from making negative comments about the workplace on Facebook. The repercussion for not signing this agreement: the loss of their jobs.
Thankfully, due to the National Labor Relations Board, the type of stunt that Applebee’s attempted a few years back would put them at serious liability risk today, since it restricts their employees’ right to free speech. But what about Anne’s unfortunate situation and the bullying she underwent?
Here are some valuable take-aways I want to share with you:
If you treat your employees well and with respect, you don’t have to worry about what they’re saying about your brand online
Before this situation took place, Anne had no reason to ever bad-talk her work. She liked her work. But how do you think she feels now that she’s been forced to allow them into her private account? Think about it!
If there is a loose canon within your staff, have a contingency plan to deal with it – if the need arises
Planning and preparing for those loose canons should be a part of your crisis management plan. When it comes to internet defamation, or potential online risk, there are measures to protect your company’s online reputation. But violating your employees rights at privacy and free speech out of shear fear of a potential threat are not the right measures to be taken.
Brush up on your rights
Thanks to the National Labor Relations Board, brands are no longer permitted to have severely strict social media policies that violate their employees’ rights to free speech. Take the time to brush up on these guidelines and rules and make sure that you are not currently in violation of any of them.
The bottom line is quite simple
- Find out what you are and are not allowed to do when it comes to regulating your employees’ actions on social media;
- Treat your employees with respect and humility; and
- Be prepared for all potential risk with a proper crisis management plan
Don’t let your fears get you in trouble or ruin the relationship you’ve worked hard to share with the members of your team. Be prepared for the worse and understand what your rights are.
What do you think and feel about brands who attempt these bullying-type schemes out of fear of social media? Do you agree with me that they are a violation of their employees rights, or do you feel that these precautions are necessary? Share your thoughts with me below!
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.
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