I read an article that described a scenario of a restaurant firing a waitress for posting a photo of a customer receipt on a social media site:
The customer was part of a large group that had ordered appetizers to share. Because of the size of the group, the restaurant included an 18 percent gratuity charge. The customer noted on the receipt that she was a pastor and commented, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?” The customer left no tip, and a waiter who did not actually wait on that customer, posted a picture of the receipt on a social media website. The post went viral, and the customer was criticized around the country. The employer fired the waitress who posted the comment for violating the employer’s social media policy. “Waitress fired for posting note about tip,” www.usatoday.com (Feb. 1, 2013).
It’s hard to be in any establishment where smart phones aren’t present, capturing photos and the stories behind the photos all the time. We are witnessing a point in time where we all feel the need to “share” to some social media platform our life, even the silliest things that years ago seemed insignificant. The lines between an employee’s work life and personal life are often blurred when it comes to social media, especially in companies that encourage employees to share important issues in order to gain greater search engine relevancy for the company they work for.
So, how do you “un-blur” that line between what’s acceptable and what is not, what is personal and what is professional? It starts with a written policy that outlines the fundamentals of treating customers, competitors, and others that interact with your company with respect. It might even state: “before you post that photo, statement, or tweet, how would you feel if someone else was posting that about you?” “How the shoe would feel if it was on the other foot” may be a good starting place. It’s about common sense, respect, and ethical treatment of others.
It’s also important for employees to understand the consequences of their actions. Could a potential post threaten another individual’s privacy? Could it create “ill-will” between the customer and the business? Could it lead to the employee’s termination?
But it’s much more than just a written policy. Like all other risks that need to be managed, it must become part of the culture of your company and be communicated, re-communicated, and trained upon.
I know, I know, training is a pain and no one likes it, but I’m not talking about sitting in a classroom or having long drawn out discussions over the topic. What I’m talking about is frequent reminders about your company’s ethics at staff meetings, or providing examples of what is acceptable or unacceptable with regard to social media via group meetings, emails, or other forms of communications – like payroll stuffers.
We have a vast library of risk management meeting topics, flyers, and payroll stuffers that can be customized to your use just ask us for what you need and we’ll be happy to help you out!
In addition to having a strategy to manage this risk, you may also need specialized policies / coverages that are typically not included in most standard business policies. In this situation, a properly crafted Cyber Liability policy may provide protection should the customer have sued the restaurant for a privacy violation, and in the event the employee sued the restaurant for improper termination an employment practice liability policy would respond. This example provides proof that specialized coverage forms are often needed, because “standard” business insurance policies are not broad enough to cover today’s risks.
For any strategy to work, business leaders need to live by example. If management doesn’t follow the rules or exemplify the standards established by the business than employees will disregard policies and procedures.
For help with your corporate social media policy, please contact us in New City, New York!