In the age of social media and mass interconnectivity, letting a certain opinion loose online can attract an individual more negative attention than they bargained for. But these days, depending on the post in question, the business they work for can also be affected by what was posted.
We’ve recently seen high-profile cases of action being taken against employees due to the opinions they share on social media. Corporate giant Disney, for example, decided to fire actor Gina Carano from Star Wars series The Mandalorian for what they deemed to be “abhorrent and unacceptable” social media posts comparing being a conservative actor in Hollywood to being Jewish during the Holocaust. That, after a number of posts from Carano mocking mask-wearing and pushing the voter fraud angle during the US election, led Disney to believe their brand would be better without her attached.
Seeing as public social media platforms are, well… public, does a company have the right to not only keep an eye on what an employee posts, but take action if it’s something they deem offensive or highly disagreeable?
Kris Grant, CEO, ASPL Group
It’s okay to follow your staff members on social media depending on your relationship with them, but it’s important not to use their activities outside of work against them. From a mental health perspective, if someone was posting something disturbing or concerning, then you could take action within reason, but everyone is entitled to a life outside of work so there isn’t much you can do about what they choose to share.
Staff, on the other hand, do need to be aware that whatever they post on social media may have implications, both now and in the future, so they should use their better judgement. If they’re choosing to take a sick day to sit by the pool, an employer could be aware and trust could become a challenge if it’s posted on social media. Post wisely.
Damian Blumenkranc, Communications Chair, Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Melbourne, co-Founder of Creativa, Attento, and Just Click Videos, CEO @ Sunset Sleepers
Back when I was running Creativa Videos, there were certain video projects that were never meant to be public, internal comms, training etc, especially when working with government and corporate.
I recall an incident when we just finished producing a training video for a client that worked out really well. We were really excited about the outcome as it looked great – so much so, that one of our editors decided to post it on his Facebook feed as his portfolio.
Fortunately, we picked this up very quickly and took it down, but this led us to review our existing policies and implement new ones to ensure that we protect our works from such imprudent actions from our team members. While we value the privacy of staff, we still have to exercise judiciousness and be conscious of their activities that may be deemed detrimental to the organisation.
Monica Watt, Chief Human Resources Officer, ELMO Software
Monitoring employee activity on social platforms, especially outside of the workplace, is heading into dangerous territory. Not only is it detrimental to the relationship you’ve built with the employee, but it will ultimately erode any trust you have with them.
An employment dynamic is a two way, mutually respectful relationship. Employers need to make their expectations clear and create guard rails that encourage alignment between both parties so they can achieve common outcomes.
When businesses fail to do this, it can lead to burnout, disenfranchised employees and, subsequently, a higher turnover rate. According to ELMO’s HR Industry Benchmark Survey, employee wellness is a high priority for businesses moving forward so it’s important to understand where your boundaries lie as an employer.
Gautam Saghal, CEO, Perkbox
This can be a tricky issue as it ultimately poses a question around to what extent should an employer be involved in an employees life beyond their work.
In an ideal world, if you hire well, this shouldn’t happen. Companies hire for culture, personality and skill. This should safeguard the company against such events happening.
But in the event it does happen, it really depends on the content of the post and the discretion of the manager. There’s also a question as to whether the post is causing broader damage to the organisation, the intentions and regularity of the posts, and whether it’s a one-off or an ongoing occurrence.
The only thing I would warn companies on is acting too hastily or rashly regarding these matters. We’ve all heard of stories of knee-jerk social media posts that blow up and almost instantly collapse the lives of their authors. People can be incredibly vulnerable at this time, and your decision and how you handle this could have lasting ramifications on their life.
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