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Should Employers Monitor Employees’ Social Media?

— November 11, 2021

Over 50% of companies use social media accounts as a determiner before hiring someone.

Should employers monitor employees’ social media? Why or why not?

Social media is an integral part of branding. To help you understand the extent to which you can or should monitor employees’ feeds, we asked HR professionals and business leaders this question for their insights. From creating comprehensive policies to protecting your brand, there are several things to consider when it comes to monitoring employees on social media.

Here are nine considerations when deciding if you should monitor employees’ social media:

  • Create Comprehensive Policies
  • Monitor the Developments of Social Media
  • Limit Distractions at Work
  • Establish Trust
  • Show That You Value the Individual
  • Protect Your Brand
  • Provide Guidelines if Employees Share Their Employer
  • Consider the Impact on Culture
  • Use Third-Party Monitoring Services

Create Comprehensive Policies

Do you encourage your employees to post on their personal social media platforms about your company and brand? If so, then monitoring their posts might be important as they can be seen as a representation of your company. 

In this case, some companies include certain employee policies surrounding the issue of social media to maintain some degree of protection as there may be some repercussions from employees’ actions online.

For employees who keep their social media personal and depending on your company’s resources, monitoring your employees may not be the most efficient use of limited resources. However, as we become more and more socially conscious, we also have to be prepared to take action as we become aware of inappropriate employee behavior online or otherwise in public spaces and places.

Randall Smalley, Cruise America

Monitor the Developments of Social Media

Since social media is always expanding, it is important for companies to keep up with new technologies and information. Some businesses prefer to prohibit social media use entirely, while others choose to oversee it closely. 

No matter which path a company follows, social media use will always be present, so it’s important to establish a company policy and clear standards. Make sure to consider how social media is currently used by employees to establish usage policies.

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Limit Distractions at Work

While we wouldn’t monitor an employee’s social media accounts, we do want to limit social media usage while on the job. To limit distractions, because we’re all guilty of excess screen time, consider covering phone and social media use during work hours in a team meeting. Follow up the meeting with a company email so employees are on the same page and understand the expectations you have as an employer.

Nataly Vanunu, Boho Magic

Establish Trust

Companies are well within their rights to demand that employees follow some basic social media etiquette. There’s a big difference between telling employees to use their best judgment and watching over their Twitter feeds. The latter has the potential to weaken the crucial sense of confidence between employers and employees, as well as damage loyalty. 

Just as an employee or job candidate must trust that a company is trustworthy and worth working for, a company must demonstrate to its employees that it trusts them to act responsibly.

Guy Katabi, Lightkey

Show That You Value the Individual

Social media’s impact is felt in every part of our lives, however not only is it important for employers to recognize their employees’ right to privacy, but also that monitoring social media accounts can be as damaging to them as it is to the person who holds the account. 

Over 50% of companies use social media accounts as a determiner before hiring someone. Businesses who avoid this tactic send a powerful message that their metric in measuring an employee is by performance while at the same time showing they value the individual.

Cody Candee, Bounce

Protect Your Brand 

Since employees are direct representations of the business they work for, employers should monitor the social media accounts of their employees so they can protect the reputation of the company. 

Brand image is everything. In this digital world, news and social media posts can easily spread in a matter of seconds, and one post could potentially put the business in a negative spotlight. 

If employers monitor social accounts, both the business and the employee must be aligned with the brand image and be aware of what behavior can be damaging to the company.

Corey Walters, Here

Provide Guidelines if Employees Share Their Employer 

I do not think that employers should monitor the social media of their employees. I think it is important for people to separate the personal and professional lives of those they work with.

Social Media Threats Lead to Federal Investigations and Arrests
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Not doing so can lead to issues with employees down the line. I think it is best to provide guidelines if they choose to share where and who they work for, but it would feel like an invasion of privacy to constantly monitor their posts.

Loren Howard, Prime Plus Mortgages: Real Estate Note Investing

Consider the Impact on Culture

Simply, it depends. If employees are in a business such as community service, teaching, or working with children, it is likely a good way to ensure that your employees are following a good ethical lifestyle on their social media. 

However, monitoring social media can border stalking in some ways, and employees who feel their employer is a watchdog typically feel uncomfortable, untrusted, and dispassionate. If you are thinking about monitoring social media, it should be stated up front with your employees prior to employment and acknowledged by the employee. 

If it is done in secret, it will likely produce negative results in workplace culture.

Amy Block, Navitar

Use Third-Party Monitoring Services

Employers should monitor employees’ social media. However, they should always use an experienced third party to do the monitoring. When an employer monitors social media directly, they are asking for a lawsuit. 

Everything the EEOC prohibits employers from asking in an interview also pertains to post-hire social media monitoring. A third-party vendor will deliver compliant profiles so employers don’t see protected-class information.

Tammy Cohen, InfoMart

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