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HR team sanity: Connecting with employees on Facebook

Facebook is the current leader in social networking membership and innovation.  The network has long been used to connect college students (if you employ any 20-somethings, they are almost certain to be a member), but in recent years has exploded onto the business scene with corporate and NPO-focused fanpages and groups to help market your organization.
Facebook Pros for employers:
In online communication, a business must consider where its employees spend their time online if they really want to connect with them.  With Facebook’s ever-increasing popularity, your employees are likely to already be engaging on this site to connect with friends, family and associates.
As an employer, you can provide a fun and interactive company fanpage to post company event photos, videos, quizzes and other culturally-rich content.  Facebook gives you a free and easy-to-use interface to set up company events with built-in RSVP or even to provide special promotions and information.
Some employees may be hugely wary of connecting directly with their bosses on Facebook, but using a more neutral territory, like a fanpage, will ensure that you’ll keep in touch.
Facebook cons for employers:
We’ve all heard the horror stories – an HR Director researches a fresh faced and promising job candidate, only to find frat party photos and uncomfortably personal information on their (very public) Facebook page.  Many Facebook users are simply unaware of how public their content and profiles are, leaving them (and potentially your company) vulnerable to unsavory situations.
How to keep your HR team sane:
Keep the lines of communication open on Facebook usage.  Perhaps your firewall blocks the site on your networks, but be aware that more tech savvy employees can easily access the site from their mobile phones .  Pretending that it doesn’t exist will harm you in the long run.
Incorporating online social networks, like Facebook, into your communications training and employee handbook will go far in helping your employees know your expectations of their conduct ahead of time.  Keep your guidelines simple and easy to understand:
At a bare minimum, keeping abreast of the frequently changing privacy settings that Facebook rolls out will help keep your employees from suffering from any undue embarrassment.  Facebook is a growing phenomenon that connects great people with great ideas and organizations, just like yours.  Encourage your employees to use it wisely and your business will thank you.

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