Online training helps companies avoid PR problems


Employee behavior online can affect a company's public image and a worker's career trajectory.

Social media started as a way for individuals to reconnect with old friends, make a few new ones and share thoughts on common interests. But, in the last five years, it has evolved into much more than that. Now, personal use of social media can have a direct impact on workers' professional lives.

It is not uncommon for companies to implement policies governing how employees conduct themselves online. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or a Tumblr blog, personal and professional lives are often linked online.

How individuals conduct themselves on the Web can reflect on their employer, co-workers and clients. In some cases, as Greek Olympic hopeful Voula Papachristou learned last week, online behavior can even reflect poorly on one's country.

Papachristou, a triple jumper, was removed from the Greek Olympic Team following her tweet of a racially-themed joke that was met with outrage from internet users around the world. The athlete later apologized, but was still barred from the Games.

In his Ohio Employer's Law Blog, an award-winning legal blog, John Hyman discusses where the line between personal and professional online presence blurs.

"We can debate whether an employee should lose his or her job for something non-work-related he or she posts on his or her personal time," wrote Hyman, a partner at the Cleveland, Ohio firm Kohrman, Jackson and Krantz. "If, however, someone can connect an employee to his or her place of employment through an online profile, what is posted becomes fair game for an employment decision."

Online compliance training solutions can be an effective tool that helps businesses avoid social media taboos. These Web-based training programs can be completed in the office or at home, and teach best practices and corporate expectations of online conduct to the workforce.

Employers can use online training to protect the company image, while employees have a clear understanding of acceptable online behavior that won't cost them their jobs.

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