Tips For EAP Practitioners: Dealing with Social Media usage at work | EAPA-SA

Social media has been a topic of growing concern for employers.  The internet, smart phones, texting, tweeting and blogging – we have accepted all of these innovations, and many more, as part of our working lives.  Being connected in this way makes work more flexible. Employees can stay in touch for longer and respond to each other quicker.  But is it all good news?  More and more, employees feel the need to constantly update their friends and to be in touch all day, and employers are already grappling with issues like time theft, defamation, cyber bullying, freedom of speech and the invasion of privacy.

All employers should have a social media policy which addresses the following issues:

  • Protocol for social media for business use
  • Employee education over the fact that social media is not private, and that discretion and care is required
  • A requirement for compliance regarding the law and rights of others
  • A requirement to protect confidential information
  • Prohibiting the posting of false information
  • A warning that the misuse of social media may result in discipline
  • Policy regarding personal social media usage at work
  • A warning that the employer controls access and content
  • Addressing levels of personal use at work or limit social media usage to off duty time and own equipment
  • Restrict employees to using personal email accounts for personal business
  • Prohibit negative conduct that might damage an employer’s reputation, business or mission


In addition to having a social media policy, it needs to be implemented properly. All staff, supervisors and HR staff should be trained accordingly and the policy distributed to all employees with a signed acknowledgement.  The policy should be enforced in a uniform manner and should be updated to keep up with the advances in social media.

Here are some suggested guidelines for employers wishing to moderate social media usage of their employees:

Employer guidelines for employees using social media for official purposes:


  • The approved social media sites may only be used for official purposes.
  • The message that the company wants to bring across to other users must be clearly defined
  • Postings must be kept legal, ethical and respectful
  • Employees may not engage in online communication activities which could bring the company into disrepute
  • Personal details of employees may not be disclosed
  • Confidential information may not be disclosed
  • Copyright laws must be adhered to
  • Only the official approved logo of the company may be used
  • The information that is published must be accurate and not confidential
  • Statements to the media must first be approved by the employer


Employer guidelines for employees using social media for non-business purposes: 


  • Be clear on the use of company equipment or access to such sites and when this may be done
  • Remind employees that internet and email communication may be monitored and intercepted as per the electronic communications policy of the employer
  • Company information must be kept confidential
  • The company name or logo may not be used on private profiles
  • Colleagues, managers or information pertaining to the company may not be discussed on such platforms
  • Employees must be advised to block access to their profiles for other users that they do not know
  • The code of conduct of the company must be respected and considered as the guiding rule Explain the consequences of failing to adhere to the social media policy of the company.1




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