How many times have we heard the same things: Social media is ubiquitous. Your employees are using social media in increasing numbers and ways. Now, Arian Foster has taken it to a whole new level.
The NFL running back (and employee of the Houston Texans) limped off the field during a preseason game last Saturday night. Wednesday morning he not only tweeted his followers to try to alleviate any injury concerns, but actually posted the MRI of his hamstring. The post caused instantaneous speculation in the sports world and beyond about his injury, and the betting lines in Vegas surely shifted over the likelihood that the Texans’ star player might not be ready for next week’s regular season opener.
I am leaning back in my chair, picturing all the bodily images that could be posted in the next wave of employee social media activity on a web site like www.employeeshowandtell.com (by the way, I checked, and that domain is still available if you want to cut off that possibility at the chase). Employers in the NFL go to great lengths to gain a competitive edge by not disclosing any injury news about a player until a nanosecond before game time. Needless to say, Foster’s employer was not too happy with the post.
Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development?
In the movie “The Social Network”, Justin Timberlake’s character aptly stated: “We used to live on farms, then in cities . . . Now we’re all living on the Internet.” So how do you continue to stay ahead of it all? There are all sorts of issues you can take away from Arian Foster’s hamstring post. For example, the need to avoid the disclosure of private and confidential information. Although Foster tweeted his own hamstring, social media has made it easier to intentionally or inadvertently violate HIPAA obligations regarding medical information. You also need to be concerned about the disclosure of your Company’s confidential and trade secret information, or that of your customers or other employees.
But I think the most important point to take away is this: We are forever tethered to social media, whether NFL team owners or you like it or not. So, like the child who kicks and screams for ice cream at 10 pm, only to have his parent standing by his bedside patiently saying that it will never happen, you should shift your efforts away from screaming at your employees and trying to tell them that they cannot use social media at all. Instead, you will be ahead of the game by learning how to manage the use of social media.
Have a happy and safe holiday weekend.