As a HR professional, brand protection might seem like the work of the marketing department with reinforcement from the external client facing departments. However, there is an increasing need for HR to take on an active role in brand protection by (1) putting in place a robust social media screening policy, and (2) the inclusion of social media screening atop their current suite of background checks during the recruitment process.
Why the focus on Social Media?
Social Media is a public two-way window for both personal and business users. Companies have also increasingly engaged proactively with potential and existing clients through business profiles and employees through social media content.
The current 2.8 billon social network users worldwide continue to grow and has been projected to hit 3.1 billion in 2021, based on data from Statista. As the number of social media platforms grows in tandem, we see that social media has becoming an inseparable part of our lives, both inside and outside the workplace. And today, the lines between personal and professional have become increasingly blurred.
According to Riia O’Donnell from HRDive, some employees may believe that social media accounts are personal and that they can post indiscriminately or display unfavourable online behaviour such as:
- Racist and sexually explicit comments
- Offensive articles and imagery
- Harassing and degrading comment
- Bullying behaviour
Is having a social media policy enough?
Not many companies have a robust social media policy in place. Those that do, tend not to enforce them. Riia O’Donnell highlights that only 32% of companies tell their employees how they should be behaving on social media.
A clear, concise and updated social media policy is a good start to ensure that clear guidelines and parameters are communicated to employees. However additional steps need to be taken, and HR professionals are recommended to take a two-prong approach by screening new hires should be for inappropriate social media behaviour in the recruitment process and taking on social media screening in annual employee rescreening process.
The introduction of these screening processes can filter and reinforce the company’s social media policy to lower the risk of a bad hire and /or damaging employee behaviours.
How does social media screening work?
Social media screening is “the process of capturing any activity on the internet relating to your candidate that is potentially incriminating.” Vetting social media profiles can provide unique insight into a candidate and may reveal potentially unlawful, violent, racist, intolerant and sexually explicit behaviors that would not show up during the interview process.
Should I DIY or outsource social media screening?
By taking on a DIY approach to social media screening, it may increase the liability of the company, as personal unconscious bias can be introduced into the process through accidental exposure to personal and protected information. Additionally, in some countries, such as USA, there have been new laws created preventing employers from asking a candidate for social media passwords or to “friend” them to see their profiles.
The engagement of a third-party provider such as Sterling RISQ will help companies navigate geographical regulations and provide an in-depth objective social media screening of the candidate’s social media posts for an unbiased, complete picture of your candidates.
Based on Career Builder’s 2016 press release, the number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased 500 Percent over the last decade. Social media screening is simple a component of an evolving screening process that evolves as we as a society evolves, and as HR take on a bigger role in brand protection.
This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.