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Social Media Safety in the Workplace

By: Richard Weinblatt, EdD
Posted: May 27, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

From workplace distraction to conduit for stalking, harassment and other criminal activity, the rise of social networking has its supporters and its detractors. Although some companies lament the greater bandwidth demands, virus infiltration, identity theft issues, productivity drain and possible co-worker harassment that can pummel computer networks and employees, others point to the teamwork and productivity enhancement nurtured by having social networking as a mental break.

Some employers have embraced social networking as a method of assessing the true character and traits of aspiring employees. On the flip side, for some skin care facilities, the ever-expanding world of Facebook has encroached into the workplace with devastating professional and personal consequences.

But can the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare be used in the workplace in a way that doesn’t expose supervisors and skin care facilities to moral and legal liability? Can the freedom of the Internet that workplace bullies, would-be Lotharios, and just plain lazy folks are emboldened by be controlled and channeled into worker productivity? The answer is a resounding “yes.”

The key is to recognize the uses and abuses facilitated by social networking, and identify the steps that should be taken to control this behavior in the workplace. Following are several tips that you can implement in your skin care facility today.

Have clear policies. Very specific policies need to be in place that govern the usage of the Internet and social networking sites. Although some skin care facilities may find it easier to just ban access altogether, this is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water. A middle-of-the-road approach is probably more appropriate for most employers. Have team members sign Internet policies indicating that they have read, understood and had the opportunity to ask questions about them.