Preparing the Workforce for Social Media Screening in Manufacturing

Photo by Bernie Almanzar on Unsplash

One of the most common experiences a company runs into when first implementing social media screening is resistance among current employees. Despite social media screening being a fairly common practice, the idea of a formalized process can feel worrisome to employees, potentially creating anxiety about invasion of privacy. However, by using a clear communications campaign, it is entirely possible for a manufacturing company to seamlessly integrate social media screening and dispel “big brother” fears in the process.

Align screening with current policies and company values

Chances are, if a manufacturing company is implementing social media screening as an additional or ongoing screening process, it is already acting on particular values. However, employees at the ground level may not immediately make that connection when first being asked to sign a social media screening waiver. Connecting the dots for current employees is an excellent touchpoint for management to bring their employees into deeper alignment with the company. Taking the time to explain which values are being acted upon with a social media screening may help guide an employee past their big-brother fears to a deeper respect for the company’s culture.

There are a few practical ways this may be implemented:

  1. Use broad values such as employee accountability and workplace safety. Safety functions as a broad net to account for all business-related behavior.
  2. Use policies on specific behavior: draw connections between sexual harassment, nonviolence clauses, and social media screening. It helps to emphasize that a screening is limited to publicly available BUSINESS-related behavior. 

Elevate the Candidate Experience

In addition to introducing current employees to the social media screening process, strategize around the candidate experience. Anticipating the candidate experience will serve the company in the long run as natural turnover introduces new employees who are adjusted to the process. Over management is useful in a variety of ways, but it also helps build trust in your brand--which may come in handy even after each hiring search closes. There are a couple nuanced ways to make the hiring process more human:

  1. Use extra touches. Even if it’s using an AI assistant, the extra attention may help make a candidate feel like they haven’t gotten lost in a depersonalized process. 
  2. Plot out the candidate’s “journey”. Have a clear understanding of what your candidate experiences when coming through the talent pipeline and determine what they might be feeling at each stage of the process. What should they expect from the process? How do you, as the employer, set the tone? Take steps to those fears and questions and use transparency in the process as much as is appropriate.

Explain Consent Clearly and Use a Third Party!

While googling employees or doing an informal social media search is by no means new, it could expose managers to protected class information, which could lead to hiring bias and discrimination claims. To avoid violating a candidates’ privacy and exposing hiring managers to unnecessary risk, outsource social media screening to a third party--and make sure employees know exactly what that means for them. Letting employees know that internal employees are not viewing their personal information could go a long way in dispelling fears that upper management is invading their privacy.

Additionally, as part of the social media screening process, it is also vitally important for companies to obtain consent from the candidate or employee. This could look much like a consent form for a criminal background check, but it can also be an opportunity for employers to answer various questions about social media screening all in one place. For example, a consent form could explain that flagged hits do not necessarily trigger an adverse action process--if that is indeed the case. (For more information about how to adjudicate social media screening reports, click here). Flagged hits, depending on company policy, can be an opportunity for a conversation rather than immediate disciplinary procedure. These conversations, if handled well, can create “teachable moments” and again, potentially bring employees into deeper alignment with the company’s values.

Why Bother with Any of This?

Managing the candidate experience gives companies a competitive advantage. After all, candidates and employees are a company’s first customers. Treating the talent pool with extra care and providing more opportunities for positive touchpoints could turn some candidates into evangelists--even if they ultimately don’t end up with an offer letter.


Social Intel is happy to provide free adjudication training to all of our clients. For a more detailed look at how Social Intel can fit into your background screening workflow, check out our Resources page.