Accept or Decline: Social Media and the Workplace

Team of people working to create a social media policy

In November last year, Sydney man Michael Nolan lost his job. He was a family man, who worked as a night manager at Meriton Apartments. He was fired for breaching the company’s social media policy by harassing a woman – feminist writer Clementine Ford – on Facebook.

Following Nolan’s post on her Facebook page, Ford took a screenshot of the interaction and sent it to his employer.  The company responded swiftly saying they did not condone his behaviour and sent a media release stating: “Nolan was removed from the Meriton site on Saturday 28th November pending an investigation, and as of 2:30pm today 30th November 2015, he no longer works for the Meriton Group”.   

The dismissal could be interpreted as a form of damage control. By enforcing their policy, Meriton Apartments took the documented, necessary steps to protect their brand and reputation. Enforcing policies is one of the trickiest aspects of any HR manager’s job, especially one so new – and rapidly shifting – as the social media policy.

15.8 million Australians are on social media and 57% are active daily. So even if your business doesn’t actively engage with social media, your employees probably do.

Our video gives you a 60 second overview of social media in Australia today.



Employee social media use can have many positive benefits for your business – they can be social brand ambassadors, increase social promotion and interact more efficiently with clients. But – as Meriton Apartments discovered – there can also be negative effects like reputational damage if an employee’s behaviour online reflects poorly on your business.

Having a social media policy to guide employees can help you to minimise the negative impact of social media and still benefit from the upsides.

1.Set clear expectations. The first thing you should do is make sure your social media policy sets out clear expectations about appropriate staff conduct on social media.  

2.Know the consequences. Any policy breach should carry clear consequences. Make it clear what types of conduct will result in a warning, and what will lead to getting fired.

3.Train your staff. Be sure to educate your staff about your social media policy and what will happen if they breach it. Dusting off a policy when something goes wrong isn’t ideal. Policies should empower your staff to make positive use of social media, not just punish them for doing the wrong thing.

4.Review and refresh. There are new social media sites (and functions) coming out all the time. Review your policy annually to ensure you continue to cover all bases and are protected in a case of inappropriate behaviour. 

No time to train your staff in appropriate social media use? CourseGenius has just released an online course in Social Media and Electronic Communications to save you time and money. Sign up for a free preview of the course or call our Australian-based support team on 1300 880 200 for more information. 

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