Human Resource Management
Table of Contents
The question of employers’ right to look into employees’ social media account is becoming progressively more significant. There are many people, who have been fired because of their posts on social media accounts. The cases of privacy and publicity clashes have been on the rise recently. Moreover, many employers take a close look at the online presence of potential candidates before offering them a job. A survey done in 2013 by career builder that assists companies to attract employers provided evidence that individual posts on the social media can determine their fit in a particular company. The survey revealed that 39% of recruiters check a candidate’s social media accounts thoroughly. 43% confessed that the social media accounts of the candidates revealed information that made the employer fail to consider the applicant for employment job. Information that was found to be totally unacceptable includes posts whereby an applicant talks ill of a former company or employer, posts inappropriate photos, and other insensitive information.
Only 19% of the interviewed participants agreed that they got valuable information that helped them analyze the candidates’ professional image and their communication skills. Some people consider it necessary for the employers to monitor the employees’ social media presence, while others oppose the idea, especially the ones that advocate for privacy. The supporters of privacy argue that the posts people put on their social media are not related to their work in any way and should never be followed except if the employer strongly suspects that an employee is planning to do wrong (McDonald and Thompson 2016).
Critical Analysis of Issues
Employers have a responsibility to check into employees social media accounts regularly. The reason for the claim is that the companies have to be careful with public access to information, as they may encounter serious issues eventually. Dissatisfied employees can engage in social media and talk ill about customers and clients, bad mouth their subordinates and bosses, or else engage in unacceptable behavior. For example, Tolu posted that she faked an illness so as not to go to work. The actions can result in tensions at the place of work and even complaints from customers and employees (McDonald and Thompson 2016). Moreover, the information could tarnish the image of a company within the market, and can even lead to court cases or regulatory action being taken against a corporation.
According to a survey that was done by the Electronic Business Communication Policies and Procedures and the Policy Institute in 2009, many employees admitted that they had shared posts on their social sites that should never been posted. According to the survey, 14% of workers acknowledged that they had sent private business information to third parties via emails. 6% shared confidential customer information, such as credit card details and security pin numbers. Another 6% also admitted that they mistreated private health information of their patients.
The examples above show how the wrong use of social media sites can cause serious problems. For instance, gross misconduct of hospital workers entails discussing their clients and patients on their social media platforms (Brown 2016). The unethical behaviors go against the policies of the hospital and the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In other instances, some workers have grumbled about their employers online. For example, Tolu posted that “I think I’ll call in sick because I just can’t face working for that idiot with this headache.” A statement is inappropriate, as it reveals the negative side of her professional image. She had committed misconduct. Moreover, the post was the evidence that Tolu was dishonest and disliked her boss to the extent of calling him an idiot. The post was meant for her friends and fans, but unfortunately, the information reached the people she did not want to see the message. The conflict resulted in Tolu losing her job. The employers had already known that Tolu often pretended to be sick when she did not wish to report to work. The comment also revealed her attitude towards the supervisor at the job.
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According to Levinson (2016), in as much as employers have the authority to keep an eye on the employees’ use of social media to guard their legal interests, they should not supervise the workers from wall to wall. Employers have the authority to oversee the conduct of their employees on the company computers. However, they are not supposed to monitor the employee’s communication outside work unless they have proof of a worker involving oneself in unlawful activities. Advocates of employees’ privacy argue that it is unnecessary, unfair and wrong for employers to dig into the social profiles of their employees. Some of the activists argue if the companies recruit employees based on the information on their social media accounts, the conduct could lead to discrimination (Levinson 2016). Moreover, the law prohibits discrimination against persons.
Many laws protect the rights of employees. They include off-duty conduct laws that prohibit employers from disciplining employees for the actions conducted outside their places of work. Initially, the restrictions were implemented to protect smokers from discrimination. Other laws aimed to safeguard the conduct of any employee provided they do not break the law. The laws also guarantee the employees the right to blog or post information on their personal social media accounts (Ciocchetti, 2016). If the guidelines were to be strictly followed, Tolu had the right to post anything she liked on Facebook without being fired. Thus, drinking was her conduct when she was not working, and she did not report to work drunk. Therefore, her employer should not have fired her.
There are also privacy laws that protect the personal lives of the employees. Employers are prohibited to use information that an employee considers private to hire or fire them. The law should be respected by all employers unless the information posted is against the federal legislation (Proctor 2016). The reason Tolu’s company could give for firing her is that the management suspected that Tolu engages in illegal behaviors like faking sickness when she does not want to report to work. It is also evident that Tolu was engaging in misconduct because she drinks alcohol during workdays, which could significantly affect her performance on the job.
The problem with the Tolu’s post on her Facebook account suggests that it was not purely private. It contained negative information about her place of work and her colleague. Tolu referred to the supervisor as an idiot. The employee does have a right to post private matters on her account provided she does not bad mouth her colleagues at work.
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Implications for Good Practice
Many benefits come with the use of social media in the workplace. The benefits include business gains and personal entertainment. However, it is important to assess the opportunities and the risks posed by the use of social media. The good practice entails reviewing the content and the accounts so as to prevent the damages that social media use can cause (Schmidt et al. 2016). The business benefits that can result from social media use range from opportunities and new pathways for companies to interrelate with several businesses and persons. Social media use at the place of work calls for commitment, responsibility, and regular communication. Supervising and maintaining the content of Facebook accounts online requires finances. The organization should consider the purpose of social media use so as to create a plan to ensure good practice in the use of social media at work. It is the responsibility of the company to select staff who will respond to issues raised, ensure that the social media policies are adhered to, and guide staff on the effective and efficient use of social media.
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The company can also use social media as a tool to reap a lot of benefits. For example, a company’s social media profile can carry out promotions. Good practice comes to play because the person selected to operate the company account should be trustworthy and responsible. The staff should post the relevant updates about the company and respond to questions, concerns, and comments made by customers and clients.
Social media can also be utilized as the tool to maintain good public relations. It provides a means, through which companies can measure their levels of transparency. The company can post pictures, blogs, and other information about the business operations. Corporations can apply social media platforms to convey information about offers on products, collect mailing records, post positive reviews by the media, and distribute sales. Social media is the cheapest and the most independent way to promote businesses to large audiences.
Companies have used social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to enhance corporate communication practices. The two platforms have enabled organizations to collect feedback from their clients in a quicker and more affordable manner. Social media has therefore changed the company’s communication practices. New approach has enabled employers to screen and recruit potential candidates for employment. A survey that was carried out in 2011 revealed that 56% of companies go to social media to find suitable candidates for the job. The companies scrutinize the online presence of their candidates by checking into their profiles to find out the professional image and the communication skills of the candidate (Keating et al. 2016). However, many people oppose the practices because monitoring the profiles of the candidates exposes their personal data such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. Hiring candidates based on the aforementioned criteria is against the discrimination laws.
The positive implications of good practice in the use of social media also include the fact that it provides the workers with a chance to share links, discuss important work related issues, post news, exchange ideas and ask questions (Lam 2016). Social media has also enabled corporations to reduce the cost of advertisements. With the increasing use of social media, the companies have been able to establish a client base and improve business reputation. When social media comes in contact with diversity, the companies benefit because it promotes diversity and inclusion.
Good social media practices have enabled many companies to implement campaigns on marketing and carry out extensive market research. Through the utilization of online platforms, the managements have been able to deliver communication, identify the interested clients, and give the links to the websites to find responses to their concerns and questions. Maintaining an active social media profile enables employees to feel more connected and informed about the business processes and operations of their company. Additionally, employers can use the social media platforms to disseminate information and give responses to the comments made by the workers. Many companies use a business Facebook page to convey information about new policies and programs to their employees. Since information posted on social media can reach many people in a short period, the employers can collect the reactions of employees based on the comments they make or the questions they ask.
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Social media also provides an opportunity for corporate organizations to collect and diversify their proficiency. Companies can use platforms such as YouTube, wikis, and microblogging to harness the native ability instead of involving third parties to do the same. Therefore, it is evident that despite the negative side of using social media in the place of work, there are many benefits that companies stand to gain if they perform good social media practice.
Since most employers have turned to social media to look for potential candidates based on good qualities and professional standards, job seekers should be conscious about the information they post on their social media accounts. Many people have lost their jobs due to posts that badmouth their employers and fellow co-workers. Posting information about illegal issues such as use of prohibited drugs and weapons can also cost one a job (Shuck et al. 2016) Although there are laws that protect the employees from scrutiny of their private lives by employers, there are legal authorities to follow up on the general conduct of the employees both at and outside the place of work. However, many organizations have reaped the benefits of social media use by ensuring good practice in the utilization of the available platforms. With proper policies in place, the corporations have been able to reach out to large audiences and transform the communication practices of their companies (Dunbar 2016). The financial benefits of using social media include the reduction of the cost of advertisement, since they can post information and images of their products on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Information that is shared on social accounts intended to reach only friends and family. At the same time, it can reach the casual audiences and result in serious problems including lawsuits.