The advent of social media networking services has had one effect that is alternately regarded as completely predictable or a stunning surprise: the blurring of the traditional line between home and work, or between an employee's private life and his or her public decisions. This has huge implications for SMBs concerned with making certain that the behavior of managers and workers does not incur adverse consequences for the organization. Those who run or own small businesses should consider the role that IT consulting firms can play in helping to train staff so that social media use does not contravene company privacy policies and other organizational goals.
Employee Use of Social Media May Indicate a Need for Training
The recent experience of a hospital in California is a case in point. A worker at the organization apparently saw no harm in using his social media account to post a story about a person, currently a patient at the facility. This violated HIPAA, the nation's primary law regarding the privacy of medical records. It is not hard to imagine, however, other situations in which workers might post items that violate not federal statutes, but the company's own policies regarding data security. A simple notation on a Facebook wall regarding how glad a worker is to have finished a project might cross the line if anything specific about the project is mentioned.
Management Is Not Exempt From Concerns
An IT consultant that can read company policies in depth and organize effective training sessions might be able to give guidance to not only line-employees. Managers as well might be crossing the line, perhaps not in their posting of information, but in the ways in which they use information they have encountered online. Many companies have stated policies or even contractual provisions related to employee privacy. A manager who learns something about a worker's personal life via social media postings and then acts on that information in the workplace may be contravening one or more of these policies.
An IT consulting firm is an excellent choice to conduct trainings on such issues because these specialists are familiar with the kinds of challenges that SMBs face in working in an electronic environment. Personnel from an IT company are not legal experts, of course, but the type of training suggested here is not primarily of a legal nature. Instead, it will involve the commonsense application of a company's own internal regulations regarding the use of technology in the workplace.