You don’t need an all-terrain vehicle for a journey down the road of ethics and social media, but you do need to be ready to move with the times. Social media is changing everything for human resources, from recruiting to employee policies. As these mediums are developing, we are learning about new implications for the ethics and compliance policies in our organizations.
Take for example the “Recommendation” function available on LinkedIn, the popular professional networking site. Does this conflict with a company’s neutral reference policy? The Network, our neutral reference policy states that as an organization we will only release names, dates of employment and position(s) held. LinkedIn recommendations are certainly a useful tool when evaluating prospective new hires, but not so great when former employees want our management to write one on their behalf. The direct manager and HR likely have the most accurate picture of a person’s contributions, but also have an obligation to not disclose that info from the neutral reference policy perspective – which makes for a tricky interpretation of the ethics policy. On the other hand, a former manager’s recommendation can be highly valuable to a former employee and could serve everyone’s best interests.
And then there’s the matter of existing employees. Should a manager write a recommendation for an existing employee? What if there are performance issues down the road? A recommendation listed on LinkedIn can be withdrawn or edited, and that may be the solution. But the situation can be treacherous and the ethics slope slippery at best. It’s in these types of scenarios where established guidelines concerning ethics, compliance and policy management are so very useful.
Next time I’ll discuss some tips on how to handle social media and policy management dilemmas.