It’s a great question to ask: what happens after the hiring process is over? Presumably, you’ve knuckled your way through fall hiring season (good job you!), screened your candidates, written the offer letters, and sent your brand-new employees off to onboarding. This hiring and training process is a significant investment of you and your company’s time--so how can you continue to best protect that investment--meaning, your company culture and productivity?
The good news is you’ve probably weeded out some bad hires from the get-go with social media screening, but for now, that’s a one-time deal. The answer may be in continuing to monitor your employees’ social media. Even better news, you’re probably not alone: according to a CareerBuilder survey, over 70% of employers perform some sort of social media search when researching a candidate, and approximately half of all employers check up on current employees’ social media long after they’ve been hired.
You can be more proactive in preventing harassment.
Presumably, the fact that you screened your employees in the first place means you already have a benchmark in place for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Monitoring is simply a means of following through with those benchmarks--especially if it involves protecting your employees against harassment. Let’s put it this way: “whatever happens online ends up at work, and what starts at work ends up online.” You may not have a report about their toxic behavior in the office, but by monitoring, you now have the foreknowledge that allows you to be proactive about protecting your workplace.
Think of it this way: you don’t know who’s uncomfortable or suffering in the workplace until they tell you. You may have an open-door policy, but chances are it’s not enough. Because protected class (i.e. minority) groups are far less likely to speak up about sexual harassment or discrimination (for fear of being ostracized, blamed, or fired), they may not tell you they have a problem until it’s too late. On top of that, it’s also hard to track verbal abuse, threats of violence, substance abuse, or other illegal activity--all of which are noxious to your work environment and all of which can be screened for.
By monitoring those employees’ social media, you’d be able to proactively address the problem however you see fit without relying on the emotional labor of protected class personnel to inform you.
...so should an issue go south, you’re prepared.
In the event that you end up with a problem in the workplace, you’re prepared with a full investigation in your back pocket. For example, in the event that an employee does make harassment claims or report other forms of abuse or illicit activity, you’re already prepared with a track record that can speak to the character of the employees in question.
It holds your employees accountable.
Presumably, you already have a killer social media policy that provides guidelines and parameters for what you as a company deem acceptable and unacceptable behavior (and if you don’t, here’s some tips into creating an effective one that saves you time, money, and headaches). The best way to make use of this is to include the red flag behavior that you screen or monitor for. Additionally, hopefully that social media policy is correlated to the company values you already share. To follow our example: if you screen for racism or intolerance, it might be a good idea to make sure that 1) your company values include inclusivity and 2) you are taking active steps to engage your employees with these values, be that through company outings or sensitivity training. That way, you can positively reinforce good behavior in the workplace whilst having the option to foresee bad behavior online.
All of this transparency on your part will help give your employees a sense of accountability, so that they can better share in your vision for a thriving workplace culture. Employees--and well, humans generally--function best when they have a set of parameters. It’s up to you to draw what you think are the best parameters and engage with your employees in positive ways to ensure they’re on board with you.
Over 70% of employers already understand the importance of screening online behavior. Reputation management and workplace safety are just two of the three top reasons companies seek out social media screening. Social Intel provides a brief, informative whitepaper and sample Hiring Report to help businesses understand how they can mitigate brand risk by taking proactive steps to screen their employees’ and prospective employees’ publicly available online information.
About the author
Lindsey is an HR content writer and lifestyle blogger.