Managing risk

11 steps to prevent harmful staff social media activity

Employees' social media activity can have a major impact on business reputation.

An employee’s comments on social media, whether they’re made during or outside of work, have the potential to jeopardise your business’ reputation, disclose confidential information, cause financial damage, allow bullying, and lose your business its competitive advantage. In addition, by not having a social media policy, legal issues can arise down the line.

What you must do


1. Ensure each employement contract states clearly your company's policies and procedures. 

2. Issue an Employee Handbook and an Employee Code of Conduct to all new staff at induction training.

3. Have a robust, clearly articulated and documented social media policy for your organisation. It should incorporate guidelines, and best practices.

4. Keep the social media policy up to date (technology can change randomly and rapidly), easily accessible to all staff, and fair. It’s important the social media policy doesn’t unreasonably infringe on an employee’s right to privacy, and should only apply if it impacts on the employee’s employment or the organisation.

5. Have all staff trained in the social media policy and ensure they’re kept abreast of any changes.

6. Clearly define what is, and is not, acceptable. Ensure all staff understand their opinions can become a disciplinary matter if they’re considered damaging to their employer's reputation or viability, or destroy the employer's confidence in them. In your social media policy, examples could be useful to illustrate what is acceptable and unacceptable.

7. Ensure staff understand this applies whether or not they post on social media in their own time.

8. Define how staff best use social media during work hours. Take into consideration that social channels are a great avenue for building brand image and developing a loyal customer base, so don’t close this door.

9. Ensure staff set their social media accounts to private and they don’t post material that is discriminatory or critical of colleagues, management or clients.

10. Enforce the policy and discipline any employee whose conduct is in breach of the policy.  This is critical to uphold its credibility as a working document within the organisation.

11. Regularly review your social media policy and procedures. Given the rapid changes in the social media space, regular policy reviews are essential.

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