Christmas is a time for celebration and the annual Christmas party is a great way to thank your staff for their work throughout the year and provide an opportunity for employees to relax and enjoy themselves.
It’s important to be mindful though that, during the festivities, if inappropriate social media content is shared it could reflect badly on the organisation.
Before the rise of social media, bad behaviour and dodgy dancing might have caused a stir on the night but would be long forgotten in the New Year. Nowadays this is no longer the case, given practically every employee has access to a smartphone camera and internet connection.
If having drunken Christmas party antics immortalised on social media worries you, then it’s worth creating a social media policy, if you don’t have one, and reminding employees of the key points before the party.
How to create a social media policy
If you don’t already have one you need to create a clear social media policy. Whilst social media can be helpful in promoting the company’s achievements and culture to prospective customers and employees, some actions can have a serious negative impact on the business or employee. Many employees are not aware of what is and isn’t acceptable, and the ramifications of their actions on social media – so it’s your job to educate them and make it perfectly clear.
It should be a straightforward document written in plain English which sets out the rules and expectations for your employees’ use of social media in the workplace. This may also need to extend to expectations of social media by your employees in their personal lives too, if this may have an impact on the company. Make sure to mention that the policy extends to all work functions, including the Christmas party.
What your policy should contain
The policy should spell out what employees can and cannot say about the company and it should be very clear about the difference between business and private social media. While you are devising this strategy it’s important to get input from heads of departments, staff reps and unions (where applicable). Together you can draw up a policy which meets the businesses’ aims without staff feeling gagged.
When it comes to disciplinary actions consider applying the same standards of conduct online as you would offline. You can help make this digestible by giving examples of how this works in practice and what the precise penalties for disregarding it are.
Maintaining your company personality
Don’t feel you have to sacrifice your brand or tone of voice just because you are creating a policy. Take a look at some of the interesting ways fashion conglomerate GAP spells out its social media dos and don’ts:
- Some subjects can invite a flame war. Be careful discussing things where emotions run high (e.g. politics and religion) and show respect for others’ opinions.
- Your job comes first. Unless you are an authorized Social Media Manager, don’t let social media affect your job performance.
- If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.
- Don’t even think about it…. Talking about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues, future promotional activities. Giving out personal information about customers or employees. Posting confidential or non-public information. Responding to an offensive or negative post by a customer. There’s no winner in that game.
Remind employees of the policy prior to the Christmas party
When providing employees with the details of the party, remind them of the key points from the social media policy. This could be on the back of a party invite, or at the end of an email.
Possible highlights you could feature include:
- Don’t post pictures that feature colleagues if you haven’t asked their permission
- Don’t post inappropriate photos of your workplace
- Don’t post anything negative about the company
- Don’t post anything negative or derogatory about a colleague
Encourage acceptable social media usage
It’s important to remember though that the Christmas party is a time for fun, therefore your social media policy shouldn’t put a dampener on the festivities.
Social media can also be good for the company as it allows you to portray your company’s personality, which can attract potential future employees and clients or customers.
As well as reminding employees of what not to post, use this as an opportunity to tell them what they are able to share. You could also consider featuring a photo area at the party, which would encourage people to pose for more appropriate pictures, as well as supplying a hashtag that can be used with all posts, which would enable you to collate all images that are shared into a central collection for everyone to view.
The annual Christmas party should be a night of festive fun and not spent frantically worrying about employees’ social media usage. To avoid the latter make sure all employees are fully briefed on your social media policy and understand what constitutes unacceptable behaviour.
This content originally appeared on Benenden’s workplace hub where employers can find a range of related articles to help with their health and wellbeing strategy.