You’d have thought that with reports of Facebook/ Twitter faux pas hitting the headlines on a regular basis, people would have learned by now that slagging off your employer on social networking sites is a bad idea – but apparently not. A new survey, by YouGov and Croner, reports that more than one in 10 under 35s have posted ‘derogatory’ comments about their boss on social networking sites (possibly followed by multiple exclamation marks). What's more, older doesn’t necessarily mean wiser: 4% of over 45s have done the same thing (although we suspect these baby boomers make less use of text speak).
With social media now pretty common in the workplace, staff really ought to have learned their lesson: there are already hundreds of examples of people doing or saying stupid things on Twitter et al. One of the most famous was the would-be Cisco employee who tweeted: ‘Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the job’. We probably don’t need to explain what happened next.
Perhaps part of the problem is that people are over-zealous when it comes to adding colleagues. The research says 77% of 25 to 34-year-olds use ‘networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn’ to connect with their colleagues, while 15% are connected to their boss (although we would argue Facebook and LinkedIn are two very different kettles of fish – there’s less of a tendency among LinkedIn members to share videos of kittens drinking through straws, and so on). With the older generation, it’s a little lower: less than a quarter of over 55s add their colleagues. They don’t seem to have learned yet that their friend count will directly affect their real-life social standing.
But as more and more people sign up to Facebook (the over-45s are now the fastest-growing demographic on the site), businesses need to be very aware of how employees use social media. Of course it can be be very useful; as Croner’s Liz Iles points out, businesses can use social media to ‘promote and generate interest’. But it’s also important to have the right policies in place to deal with rogue users.
Of course, it would make employers' lives much easier if staff weren't daft enough to post these damning comments in the first place. But where would the lolz be in that?
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