Social Media Policy in Manufacturing

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The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a significant disruption in the manufacturing industry. Sustained shutdowns have wiped out 1.3 million jobs after 10 years of steady and significant employment growth, forcing companies to reprioritize and economize their teams. However, with these losses may come a hidden opportunity: to rework the workforce and streamline policy that has historically not operated efficiently.  

Few things can become a greater harbinger to declining workplace morale than toxic behavior and breaches of confidentiality. In an increasingly digital world, it is more important than ever that companies set the precedent for digital hygiene for their employees where applicable for business-related behavior. While a manufacturing company may already maintain standards of confidentiality and integrity at the workplace, the same standards must extend to social media as well. The easiest way to ensure that employees are maintaining compliance is to create an infrastructure that centers around a robust social media policy. Here’s what we mean.

Policy is the backbone of a safer, more accountable work environment

For manufacturing companies, a trustworthy working environment is of utmost importance to maintaining both morale and trade secrets amongst employees. Non-disclosure agreements and standards of professionalism may go a long way to setting a precedent, but is that enough? Toxic behavior can still run rampant in the workplace, tanking morale at best and spiking turnover rates at worst. Moreover, despite rigorous attempts to enforce these policies, firing stories are not unheard of and can cause public relations headaches for manufacturing companies across the nation. A social media policy is necessary to underscore the importance of confidentiality and integrity in the workplace.

Further, the scope of a policy extends beyond simply setting and enforcing a series of industry-regulated requirements. It’s an ethical document that has the power to address and influence the culture of a work environment--from security concerns to broader standards of professional conduct like integrity, compassion, tolerance, and inclusion. The key to integrating a social media clause is to include company values. A policy not only protects the company, it serves to protect staff as well. 

Consistency + Policy + Documentation = Actionable

As manufacturing companies are well aware, the best way to maintain a robust policy is to ensure it is implemented democratically and with consistency. For a social media policy to reach peak efficacy, consistency in enforcement is key. Not only does policy standardize the process, it also encourages an internal culture of integrity and accountability, which in turn creates a precedent that can attract a better talent pool. Just as factory workers are held to standards of consistency and excellence in production, it is integral for staff to be held to values-driven policies as members of a team.

So how can policy be actionable? First, we like to say that consistency plus policy and documentation equals an actionable process. An actionable policy for education defines the nature of social media posts, clearly states what is not permissible and outlines consequences and disciplinary processes for violations. Is it ever appropriate to post photos of the workplace, even if protected information or equipment is not present in the frame? Is it ever appropriate to talk about factory work on social media? What about the charged language?

Documentation may be the trickiest part of this process. For a social media policy to function efficiently, a manufacturing company must ensure that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of employees are acting appropriately across a multiplicity of digital spaces. To make matters more complex, the prolonged pandemic and increasingly stressful working conditions have contributed to a spike of social media firing stories across several industries. In a moment where manufacturing companies are fighting hard to maintain their workforces under decreasing production levels, companies might benefit from prioritizing workers who practice appropriate digital hygiene across social media. 

How can a large manufacturing company afford to get out in front of violations of policy, taking into consideration the scale at which they operate? 

Enter social media screening, one of the most efficient ways to leverage web and social data to maintain policy at each stage of the employee lifecycle. By utilizing a social media screening service, a manufacturing company can easily screen candidates as a prerequisite for employment as well as oversee current employee’s public social data for intolerance, violence, sexual harassment, or other custom industry-related concerns.

Infrastructure is the key to a smooth, repeatable process

For a manufacturing company to effectively outsource their screening needs to a third-party screening service, their social media policy must be backed up by an infrastructure that emphasizes efficiency and repeatability, on top of maintaining FCRA compliance, as with traditional screening procedures. A company must first be able to demonstrate permissible purpose and comply with FCRA procedures. This process includes providing disclosures and authorization to all persons to be screened, producing a plan to take adverse action, fielding consumer disputes and reinvestigations, and reasonable policies and procedures concerning accuracy. With the right tools, a social media policy can be a powerful mechanism for maintaining security in data and operations as well as managing inappropriate behavior for a safer, healthier working environment for all workers across the floor.

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