Questionable Posts

“Sarah, my employee, has been posting on social media a lot of pictures of herself partying and drinking. She has been moving up in the company but I think these posts could eventually hurt her career. What can I do?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Legally, there’s nothing you can do about the choices employees make when posting on social media. People of all ages now seem to post everything about their life, without regard to privacy or what others may think. Once something is posted, it truly is “out there” forever. People don’t always think about that when posting.

You can counsel Sarah and explain she might want to give some thought to the message she’s sending with her choice of posts and who is seeing them. Although we all have personal lives, every detail doesn’t need to be made public. In some cases, those posts may actually alter what people think of her and that could ultimately damage her career.

Strangely enough, a lot of people feel a person with a lot of responsibility at work must be responsible at all times. For example, people may not want to see their banker getting sloppy and having fun at a party. They only want to know this person is someone they can trust.

If you have employees connecting with clients, have them stop using their personal accounts. Instead, create a company page where they can connect and you can control what gets posted. Another option you have is to coach your employees to maintain a separate list for business contacts, when possible, so they can better control what is viewed by those contacts.

As politicians have found, it can be very awkward to have an old post suddenly pop up as a news item. Many companies are now scouring social media to gain more insight into applicants. Regardless of whether they should do that or not, employees need to be aware of the potential long-term effects of publishing every aspect of their lives.

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