The Chelsea Welch Case and Your Employer Brand

September 03, 2013 by Careerminds

Social media has given companies the ability to have a two-way dialogue with their customers. They are able to solicit feedback, humanize their brand and expand their reach through the numerous social media outlets that keep growing. Social media has been fully embraced by companies and customers alike. When used properly, social media can be an organization’s best friend.

The Dark Side of Social Media

Social media can have a dark side for employers. The same medium that they use to reach customers and clients can do a lot of harm to the employer brand. Many of us have heard about the Chelsea Welch case. Welch is a former Applebee’s employee who got fired for posting a picture of an insulting note written on a receipt on Reddit. Once Chelsea announced that she was fired over posting the picture, the internet erupted with support for her. Blog posts, updates and petitions for her rehire were everywhere.

This is an employer brand fiasco. It is a fact of business that employers will have to let some people go. This will happen, it’s how employers handle this inevitable task that can make a world of difference to the employer brand.

Have a Clear and Thorough Social Media Policy

While the social media policy in place was clear, available to employees and discussed, it was obviously not as thorough as it needed to be. Many companies are now implementing social media training programs. These companies are interested in safeguarding the brand while turning their employees into brand ambassadors. Companies can’t build an employer brand without their employees. Encouraging positive social media interaction enables the workforce to still have a voice.

Change the Passwords

Another case in which social media was used by a scorned employee took place when a social media manager was part of a massive layoff. HMV, a British entertainment retailer was conducting a 200-employee layoff and the world got a front seat view of the in-house action. One of their social media managers in charge of their corporate Twitter account was posting minute-by-minute updates on the restructuring. Tweets like, “Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand,” and “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!” went out one after the other.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Know whom you’re letting go, what they do and what kind of access they have. Now days, the social media account passwords are just as important as anything else. Employers can never be certain of how employees will react.

Building an employer brand is half the battle, protecting it is the other half. Social media can do wonders for an employee brand in little time and with little resources, but it can also do a lot of damage. When employees feel truly valued, employers are less likely to have to worry about it.

Offering former employees outplacement services fortifies the employer brand throughout the lifecycle of the employee. Employers are essentially giving their employees a promise that they will be taken care of even after their time with the company. This shows employees and candidates that they will be cared for beyond their role within the company.



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