In these days of global connectedness, millennials have never experienced a non-connected workplace or an office that closes at 5pm. The lines between work and personal life have been blurred considerably.
How do we know how to define the line between our friends and our colleagues on social media? When does a colleague cross the line to a friend or more, and can that be dangerous? After all, many of our best friends began as people we met through work, sometimes even our partners for life.
There have been many stories about employees, calling in sick for the day, then posting photos of themselves enjoying time outside, on social media, forgetting exactly who can see that. The event is passed on to the business and the employee can find themselves in a difficult situation trying to explain.
In Facebook, review your privacy settings to see all the options available to you. For example you can use the activity log to see every time someone tags you. Facebooks Privacy Basics website is also a great place to learn more about how you can monitor and manage your exposure on Facebook.
So should you add your colleagues to Facebook? There is no right or wrong answer, but like with many things in life, use common sense and once you make your decision remember it, and exactly who will be seeing that post!
Think strategically about whether you want certain people to be privileged to your private life, thoughts and background. What people can see visually about you, could have long reaching effects and in the end be quite destructive towards your future goals. It is not often that our professional lives and personal lives should really mix in a public forum.
Remember what Warren Buffet said about reputations ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it’.
Additionally once on the internet, your content is there forever and can always be unearthed at a time that is most inconvenient for you! Think about keeping your professional networks on a professional networking platform such as LinkedIn and your social networks on your social platform.
There have been a few interesting cases we should take into account in regards to how to behave on social media. One employee lost his claim, after being dismissed due to the threatening nature of his comments about a fellow worker. He did not even mention the company he worked for by name, but the court ruled that the visibility of his comments to friends and colleagues who all knew where he worked was as good as mentioning the business by name. The business had in place policies advising that offensive and threatening language would not be tolerated and Fair Work Australia upheld the action of dismissing the employee.
Conversely, cases where employees claim unfair dismissal from businesses who do not have clear guidelines, where employee comments are not threatening and colleagues are not friends on Facebook have been upheld by Fair Work Australia. Dismissal of workers who have made comments about work, publically and then been dismissed, have won unfair dismissal claims.
Of course each case is judged on its own merit, but highlights how employee’s use of social media, even when outside of work hours and not mentioning names, can still be a highly dangerous activity.
Employees need to be aware that posting comment about their workplace on social media can lead to disciplinary action or dismissal.
Think twice before you accept that colleague as a friend and before you make that work related comment.
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