7 things I learned presenting on social media at #SHRMleg

359/366On Monday I had the privilege of presenting “Social Media for HR: Practical Guidance from a Generation Y Attorney” to a packed house at the SHRM 2012 Employment Law and Legislative Conference in Washingon, DC. I killed (naturally) and the audience of attorneys and HR professionals was fantastic. During the course of this interactive session, some of what the audience had to say really surprised me. And it may surprise you too. Click through to find out what real HR pros are doing to address social media in he workplace…

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No Daughtry, it is a surprise…

The old heads and skepics have their scare methods. That’s not how I roll…

My approach is a little bit different than how some other employment lawyers — those with a few more years on me, others who just preach about social media rather than practice it too — address social media issues with HR professionals. As you may have already guessed, I don’t believe that social media is a fad. And I’m not a gloom-and-doomer, pounding draconian social media rules designed to keep employees off of Facebook. Instead, I like to think that I am a pretty practical, pragmatic dude.

*** Steps off soapbox ***

So, that’s how I presented on Monday. Rather than espouse a one-size-fits-all approach, I left companies to decide for themselves how to address employee use of social media. Yes, I did outline a few possible social-media rules and a few possible social-media guidelines, but what I emphasized more was the manner in which they are presented to employees. Will companies encourage employees to use social media to engage with customers and one another? Or is getting online and social not the chosen path?

Plus, companies need to consider how to deliver the social-media message to the workforce. With a slick infographic? Or with a more traditional handbook policy? Neither is necessarily right or wrong. To each their own. Whatever approach the company takes, I suggest framing the message in a policy of some sort, and coupling it with education and training — just as companies would should with an anti-harassment policy and “respect in the workplace” training.

The audience dug what I was saying. And I loved the feedback throughout. During my 1 1/2 hour session, I asked the audience about their experiences with addressing employee use of social media, and here are seven things I learned from presenting:

    1. More than half of the room worked for a company with a social-media policy (a little more than I expected).
    2. Nearly the entire room had investigated an employee complaint that, in some way, involved social media. (This blew me away).
    3. Even more attendees had their own Facebook account (Not as surprised).
    4. The attendees were generally in-tune with the goings-on at the NLRB. (Good for you!)
    5. Conversely, very few in the room, I’d say maybe 10 percent, use social media to conduct background checks on potential hires (Take that, plaintiffs’ bar!). The concerns were predictable, yet valid: (a) legal concerns, (b) unreliability of information; (c) breadth of information; (d) invasion of privacy. 
    6. Even fewer had completely banned social media on the company network (mostly due to concerns of network security and hacking)
    7. But, no one at my session knew who was copping a feel of Hillary Clinton in the picture below, which was posted on Facebook:

    Do you? (Take a guess in the comments below…)

    Photo credit: Facebook via Washington Post 44 blog