Compliance Communicator: September 2013

by NAVEX Global

Memo to Managers

Social Networking in the Workplace

More than 75 percent of American workers use some form of social networking*, and that number is likely to increase. And it’s not just younger workers who are using social media tools; employees in all age brackets are online and interacting in significant numbers.

While social networking offers new and interesting ways for people to communicate and get work done, it can also create some risks for you personally and for your organization.

Following are some best practices to steer you – and those you may manage – in the right direction and help answer the question, “to post, or not to post?”

Comply with Policy

Whether you are using your own electronic devices or employer-provided devices, accessing and using social media should never interfere with work responsibilities, create productivity issues or otherwise violate policy. Inappropriate use of social media or electronic resources can lead to corrective action under most policies.

Think Twice, and Post Carefully

Posting a message to Facebook or Twitter feels different from making a statement to a room full of people. Typing a message on a computer or phone can create an illusion of distance, safety and possibly even a feeling of anonymity. Make no mistake, though — what you post or tweet is effectively being broadcast to a room full of people and what has been said cannot be unsaid.

Before creating online content, think twice, and post carefully.

Be Careful with Confidential and Non-public Information 

A simple status update, a post about a workplace challenge or a communication with a client or prospect can result in an accidental disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, and can violate policy. It can also undermine client relations, our organization’s reputation and result in the loss of valuable legal protections relating to that information.

So, no matter the type of confidential or proprietary information you have access to – or whether it belongs to your employer, a client, or customer or business partner –you have an obligation to protect it. If you do post about your work or organization, be accurate, transparent and respectful and don’t post anything that is confidential, proprietary or that would otherwise violate the law (such as sharing insider information).

Use Common Sense

Ultimately, you are solely responsible for what you post online.  And, although you may think that social media is private, any information you share online can be quickly shared with an incredible number of people. Comments you make online are out there forever.

Following these practical tips will help protect you and your employer.

  • Always use common sense and think carefully about what you post
  • Be discreet
  • Be professional and polite
  • Show respect for the people you work with and the company
  • Be honest, transparent and truthful
  • Have integrity
  • Don’t disclose confidential information
  • Avoid negative comments and engaging in arguments
  • Don’t post comments that could be viewed as harassing, threatening or defamatory
  • Protect your organization’s brand, and your own reputation

*National Business Ethics Survey of Social Networkers, July 2013

Q & A

Questions of the Month

Q: I know one of my employees visits inappropriate social media sites during the workday, but no one has complained and he is very discreet. Accessing the sites has not interfered with his ability to get his job done. Should I address this issue now or wait until I receive a complaint?

A: You should address misuse and policy violations even before receiving a complaint. It doesn’t matter whether anyone has made complaint or not; once you notice that an employee is violating policy (in this case accessing inappropriate sites during the workday), you have an obligation to address it. You should contact HR or a more senior manager for guidance.

Q: I’m really excited about the new project my team is working on and I’d like to tell my friends about it on Facebook. Can I do that?

A: Your enthusiasm is excellent, and we want you to be able to share it with your friends. You must be careful, however, to avoid sharing anything about the project which is confidential or proprietary. If you wish to share anything more than a general statement about the work, it is best to talk to your manager about what you can and can’t share.


Active Social Networkers at Work

We normally allow the use of Compliance Communicator matierial without citation, however - as this information was taken directly from an Ethics Resource Center study* - please do include the citation that already appears at the close of the infographic.

social networking at work

*Statistics taken from the National Business Ethics Survey of Social Networkers

Using Compliance Communicator™

Compliance Communicator is designed to engage middle management and ensure that ethics and compliance are top of mind and instilled in the everyday work environment.

Use this valuable resource in whatever manner suits you best – copy and paste parts of it into e-mails or presentations, post sections on your website, or forward the entire newsletter to your staff.

The content has been written by the advisory services division of NAVEX Global, the Ethical Leadership Group.

Learn more about ELG 

In providing you our Compliance Communicator electronic newsletter, NAVEX Global is granting you permission to publish any or all of the content to best suit your organizational needs.  Please limit distribution to personnel internal to your corporation or organization.


Written by:

NAVEX Global

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