Social Networking And Employee Complaints

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I’ve written several blogs on using social networking for business purposes, but what about the other side of social networking? The side where employees post negative and sometimes even derogatory comments about work or coworkers? This is becoming an increasing problem.

Face it, employees have always and will always complain about work. “I hate my job.” “I hate my boss.” “If I could afford to quit, I would walk out right now.” The list could go on forever about complaints made by employees, even from those who work at the best of companies. We spend more time at work than we do at home with our families. Complaints are just a part of the work environment. I haven’t met a person yet who hasn’t had at least one small complaint about something or someone in their company. However, with the huge shift to social networking, more employees are voicing these complaints in a public forum ~ no matter how ‘locked down’ your profile or account is. If it is online, then there is a way for others to access it either through you or someone you are friends with.

How should HR handle these situations?

First, according to Aliah D. Wright, the company must have specific social networking policies in place. Without these, there really is not much HR can legally do to combat negative comments.

Second, many people do what’s called vaguebooking on Facebook. This is when someone posts something very vague and that post could be referencing someone or something completely different than what other readers believe it is about. Taking something someone posted as literal can be very dangerous.

HR professionals should start by talking with the manager of the individual who posted the comment to find out how the employees work habits are, if there is negative or low morale, if there have been any negative instances with that employees, etc. If not, HR should likely just let it go. However, if events occur, additional investigation should be conducted to determine what the source of the issue is.

Third, all employees should be careful with what they post. Keep in mind, the laws concerning the ability for employers to ask for an employee’s personal log in information for their social networking sites is still quite vague. With that said, be careful what you post. Before posting anything, ask yourself Would I want my boss or the President / CEO of the company to read this?

Are you guilty of posting something negative about your company and / or boss on a social networking site? Would you do it again?

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