On 20th August 2012 there was a feature in Training Journal, by employment law specialists Bibby Consulting & Support, outlining the amount of time consumed at work through employees using social media. Their Managing Director, Michael Slade, says that businesses should develop and implement a social media policy that includes, “telling staff they are not allowed to use their mobiles during office hours and can only turn them on at agreed breaks” (See the article).
This is an issue that all business owners and HR Directors need to consider, not only as regarding employee performance, but also to protect their organisational reputation in any Critical Incident. The thing to remember with Social Media is that it is instant; a Tweet or a posting on Facebook, G+ or LinkedIn takes seconds and is out in the world.
We all know that, when dealing with a Critical Incident, information is coming at us thick and fast and everyone wants answers and decisions now. What you do not need, to compound your challenges, is a member of staff discussing this live incident on Social Media – especially if they do not know all of the facts.
Just think of the frequency you read in the news about someone putting something on one of these networks that has got them into trouble. Recently, there have been the venomous Tweets about the Olympic diver Tom Daly and the Tweets sent by cricketer Kevin Pietersen.
So, how could this affect a Critical Incident – or even create one? Well, on Monday 13th August, Constable Brian Bachmann of Brazos County, Texas was shot and killed by Thomas Alton Caffall III, whilst trying to serve him with an eviction notice. As ‘breaking news’ on Twitter, it said that two people had been shot and killed, one of them a police officer, and the perpetrator was in custody. Two hours later the news said that Caffall had shot and killed a police officer and, in a gun battle that ensued, another male civilian had been killed and four others wounded; three police officers and a female civilian – and that Caffell had also been killed.
On this occasion it was clear that Caffall died from gunshot injuries sustained at the scene – but what if there had been contention as to what happened. Can you imagine the inquiry that would go on regarding what happened in the two hours between the first Tweet and the statement that Caffall had died? Typically, the initial Tweet got sent out before all the facts were known. Usually these entries on Social Media, by staff, are not malicious; it’s just that we have created a culture of ‘letting our friends know what’s happening in our world’ as it happens. In fact, more and more people feel uninformed if they do not keep up to date with their ‘friends’ and, worse still, consider it their right to do so.
This leaves one simple question, “What does your Critical Incident plan include about Social Media?”