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Where HR goes to lawyer up

2 min read


Lawyers can be a handy part of your HR team. They’re great if you need to sue someone for violating a noncompete, bust a FMLA freeloader, or defend yourself against accusations of illegal discrimination.

What they aren’t generally trained to do is recruit. Or develop creative ways to boost employee engagement.

In a nod to the growing interest in using social media for business purposes, the Society for Human Resource Management’s Employment Law and Legislative Conference had two sessions on social media, both led by well-regarded HR lawyers. Unfortunately, they came from essentially the same perspective: Social media bad. Use it at your peril.

Except no one seemed to have any actual examples of businesses who had seriously run afoul of the law in using social media to monitor their workers and reach out to potential hires.

What they did have: Nonsense stats about how people are spending a fourth of their workday on Facebook. (Even I don’t do that, and I use social media in the course of my job.). Amusing stories about employees who said stupid things on social media sites and got caught by their bosses.

The questions from the audience worried me more — especially the one about setting up fake profiles to monitor union organizing activity. Is that really the best use of this technology HR people can think of? If so, check out Martha Finney’s recent post on social media and employee engagement.

And yet, I know there are smart HR pros and recruiters out there experimenting with social media, with real business results to show for it. Sodexo’s doing it. Susan Strayer keeps a list of companies who actively recruit via Twitter.

Sodexo, where’d you find your lawyers? Next year, I want to see them at SHRM.

Image credit, DNY59, via iStock