For WhatsApp to be an effective communication tool, people need to read and engage in the information that is shared. Traffic can be high, especially in larger groups, and this can mean that people miss information or disengage with the channel of communication, which defeats the point. People can also become relaxed when communicating on WhatsApp and forget they are still in a professional environment, which can make them vulnerable to breaching their employer’s policies.
To help prevent your WhatsApp group becoming ineffective, here is some suggested text you can use, when inviting people to join the group, which outlines the rules from the outset:
Dear [insert name],
I have set up a WhatsApp group for NEU [insert branch/workplace name] members, for mutual support and sharing of information. This group is for NEU members only and you can join using this link [insert group hyperlink]
Please read the following guidelines for your own protection.
1. Remain professional and be aware of your social media policy – rule of thumb: don’t mention a pupil or parent by name, and only talk about what is happening in school/college in factual terms rather than emotive terms, avoiding naming individuals wherever possible.
2. Be considerate and respectful of each other and abide by the NEU Behaviour Statement that you can read here: (LINK)
3. Mute the group to prevent repeated notifications.
4. Avoid messaging late at night or very early in the morning.
5. Keep discussions relevant to school/college and union matters – individual conversations should happen outside of the group.
6. Do not share individuals’ comments or details with anyone outside of this group.
Addressing disruptive behaviour
Conversations can easily deviate from school/college and union matters and some individuals can dominate the chat, or make other people feel uncomfortable. These situations will need to be managed carefully but also promptly. If people in the chat are digressing to personal conversations, you should remind them that your group is for union chat and suggest they make a new “social” group for other topics.
If someone is being disruptive or inappropriate, contact the participant privately to let them know their behaviour is not acceptable for this space. This can be a valuable learning opportunity for the participant, who might not understand why their behaviour is unacceptable. It's also useful to make personal contact in this way before taking further action, since disruptive behaviour might be the result of feelings of frustration or exclusion from your WhatsApp chat.
However, if a participant continues their unacceptable behaviour you can, and should, “remove” them from your group. You can do this by clicking on the arrow to the right of their name in “group info”. Once removed, the participant will not be able to re-join the WhatsApp group.