InJuly last year, two Subway employees were fired after getting fresh — and not in the way the QSR chain had hoped — including one who put his genitals on a
loaf of bread, took a picture and then shared
the snap online. Gross photos like these of
employees deliberately mishandling food
make store managers everywhere cringe.
But what can and should companies do to
prevent social media misconduct from ever
occurring in the first place?
QuickChek Corp. in Whitehouse Station,
New Jersey, has a zero-photography policy.
Only store managers may take photos on
site, and then only for business purposes,
said Bob Graczyk, vice president of human
resources. In fact, QuickChek doesn’t allow
any cell phone use on the sales floor.
The company has established employee
guidelines for social media use — something
that’s fairly uncommon. According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey, only 40% of companies have a social media policy. And while established guidelines
may still be rare, they are important.
“Companies don’t think about what they
need to do until it’s too late,” Aliah Wright
said, until after embarrassing employee photos or tweets have
Wright, who wrote A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Ac-
tivity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…and the Hundreds of Other
Social Media Sites, said companies should have a written social
media policy, “just like with any type of behavior you’re manag-
ing” in the workplace.
She also advises sitting down with employees and discussing why the company
has adopted its policy. “You can use examples. You can have a discussion of the
crazy things people do” that get them into
trouble, she said.
A good policy makes clear to employees that they can be held accountable for
any content they post on the Internet,
“whether they are in the office, at home or
on their own time — particularly if something they post or share violates other
company policies,” she said.
Designate someone in the company who
is trained to deal with social media complaints so that, if an incident occurs that
person can “sit down with employees, take
action, apologize,” Wright said. Also “make
sure that employees have an outlet to express their concerns” about social media
activities or policies.
Companies should keep in mind their
own industry and culture when setting
social media policies, Wright added. In
the health-care industry, for example, that
means not violating patient privacy, while
“for convenience stores, it can mean not
showing the company in a bad light.”
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employ-
ees do have “certain leeway in their social media postings”
whether from home or at work, about issues relating to their
n Half of the total U.S.
population uses smart-
n The top five activities
on smartphones are:
on the Web, engaging
on Facebook, looking at
n 84% said they text,
email and visit social
sites from their smart-
phones. Only 16%
“talk” on the phone.
n 79% of respondents said
they have their phone on
or near them for all but
up to two hours of their
(ICD research report:
“Always Connected: How
Smartphones And Social
Keep Us Engaged,” sponsored by Facebook)
Prevent employee misconduct with
a good social media policy.
BY STEPHENIE OVERMAN
SOCIAL MEDIA AHEAD