Can employers force employees to be on LinkedIn?
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the world’s largest social media platform which allows professionals to connect, share and learn via the online world. It focuses on professional networking and career development and the non-premium version of it is completely free!
There are many uses for LinkedIn including, without limitation, a quick route to communicate with professional contacts and finding out what moves contacts are making ie: what they are posting and ‘liking’. It is also useful for searching for jobs, enhancing professional reputation and strengthening professional relationships as well as indicating to recruiters that a user is open to new employment.
Users are able to include their past experience, education, qualifications and certificates, skills and accomplishments in their profile. Once complete, a user can review, in summary, much about a connection’s professional life. This will help to determine whether the user may wish to connect with a user for the purpose of ‘networking’.
Similar to other social media platforms, users can ‘like’, post and share content on their home page – useful for those networking professionals who are keen to promote their business/service.
That all sounds positive, so what’s the issue with employers forcing employees to represent the business on LinkedIn?
Employers cannot control an employee’s social media presence, save for those who are in marketing/networking-type roles where having a social media presence would be included in their employment contract and/or Job Description. In many work spheres, having a social media presence is accepted as being a personal preference and not essential for work.
That said, employees who ‘like’, share and/or comment on business-related social media posts can potentially help to build their employer’s reputation, increase their visibility and attracting talent, as well as increasing their own profile’s visibility.
If employers do not wish to go as far as including a clause within their employment contracts to impose clear duties on employees to promote the business on LinkedIn/other social media platforms, then here are some top tips for encouraging employees to make the most of social media:
- ask employees if they are happy to connect with their colleagues;
- encourage employees to connect with client/customer/candidate base;
- ask employees if they would be happy to follow the Company’s LinkedIn page;
- allow employees to associate themselves as being employed by the Company;
- suggest employees use their job description to update their current experience on LinkedIn;
- where the Company has a marketing department, perhaps offer training on the effective use of LinkedIn;
- ask employees to ‘like’/share/comment on Company content; and/or
- ask employees to share Company job adverts to assist recruitment.
Employers should not:
- ask employees to connect with anyone and everyone to boost an employer’s visibility. Doing so is a matter of personal choice. Unless there’s a contractual obligation, boosting an employer’s visibility on social media is not an employee’s responsibility;
- ask employees to ‘endorse’ their colleagues for skills they have not witnessed;
- permit employees to request or give recommendations to recognise a project or type of work undertaken (unless they are a direct manager or have been given authorisation to do so); and/or
- promote negativity about other businesses, individuals or otherwise, as personal opinions can damage a Company’s reputation and business.
In order to ensure employees understand their responsibilities when using social media, irrespective of whether this is during or outside working hours, employers should ensure they have an active and up to date Social Media Policy. Most importantly, employers need to protect their confidential and proprietary information, as well as their reputation. Essentially, this policy should set out the ‘dos and don’ts’ including what would happen in the event of a breach.
Do you need help implementing a social media policy? The GatekeeperHR team is here to help. GatekeeperHR is a fixed cost, employment law and HR retainer service which provides businesses with access to a dedicated team of experienced lawyers and HR professionals who you can speak to, or meet face-to-face, at any time. The service includes a full HR compliance audit, access to an online portal full of valuable employment law and HR resources and an annual training session on topics of your choosing. To find out more about GatekeeperHR, please contact us.
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