Social media policy: to stalk or not to stalk?

You might know your social media policy, but do you know workplace social etiquette?

A long time ago, someone with vision and poetry (probably Shakespeare) penned the phrase, ‘eyes are the windows to the soul’. This little piece of genius was a way for us to acknowledge that peering into someone’s eyes can sometimes give you a lot more insight into who they are and what they’re about, than a conversation.

These days, while searching someone’s eyes is all well and good, more often we find ourselves searching their Facebook pages, and it is there we see the true window to who they are and what they’re like… on the weekends!

Since the rapid rise of social media, particularly Facebook, the world of HR, recruitment and even management has changed. Suddenly we have this amazing tool at our disposal that allows us to ‘stalk’ potential candidates, trouble makers and those up for promotion so we can gain a better understanding of their ‘cultural fit’ in our workplace.

No longer can they hide behind an over-priced, on-trend suit – now they have to check their privacy settings, untag their photos and keep their work-related rants far from their status updates.

But with this great tool comes power, and we should stop to ask ourselves – how ethical is it to stalk a ‘candidate’ to determine suitability, or to check out a team-mate’s photos in a bid to find a reason for their change in behaviour? After all, is your weekend persona the same as the person who drags themselves to work Monday morning?

Guiding employee social media use

Very few of us are exactly the same outside the confines of work as we are inside, and this is often reflected in our social media profiles.

Many big organisations now have a social media policy that dictates what is and isn’t considered appropriate when it comes to posting or tweeting about work. But what about all those unwritten rules that make up good work-related social media etiquette? While the social media policy is a must-read for all employees, the tips below, shared with our teams, may go a long way towards their career growth.

Clear your pics when going for a new job
Over recent years, one thing has become abundantly clear about social media – you can track down almost anyone! If you’re going for a new job, make sure you take five minutes to scroll through all the photos you’ve posted on Facebook and everything you’ve been tagged in.

While images of you partying too hard, or taking drugs or clearly intoxicated might be obvious ones to remove or make private, also think about the organisation you’ll be working with and what they would deem a good cultural fit – watch out for reposted mem

Privacy settings
It might sound an obvious one, but so many (young people especially) don’t check their privacy settings. If you don’t want bosses or colleagues seeing your action-packed weekend, change your settings!

es that might make non-PC statements that contradict your new organisation’s mission.

Don’t bag your last job
Many organisational social policies dictate that employees who bad-mouth the company on social media will be disciplined or terminated. One thing many people forget is that bad-mouthing a company you used to work for, also does you no favours. Not only could it get you in trouble with your last company, but if your new boss stumbles across it, it could tarnish your reputation before you start.

Are your activities ‘boss-appropriate’?
While many people are now comfortable with ‘friending’ their boss and colleagues, it’s important to remember this means they are privy to the sometimes not-so-professional version of yourself that comes out of hiding on the weekend. The side of you that may do things your boss or colleagues don’t approve of and may influence their opinion of you. Think carefully about why you use Facebook (and each of your social accounts) and who your real audience is… is it your boss?

As a manager, Facebook can be a dangerous vault of useful insights
Sounds ominous right? Well it can be. As a manager, if you accept a Facebook request, be prepared to draw a line in the sand when it comes to what you see on an employee’s profile. Seeing their personal information can sometimes challenge your ethics and your sense of how you handle situations – and this is something managers really need to think about now, and possibly be informed on by HR and leadership.

As an example, an associate let us in on an employee who was seriously underperforming at work. He’d heard rumours, but it was Facebook updates that let him know his employee was dabbling regularly in drugs.

Now, this manager should have ignored what he’d seen, and approached the employee professionally to discuss their performance. Instead, armed with the Facebook information and NOT with the workplace drug policy, he attempted a very personal conversation with the employee about their drug use – overstepping an important line.

While it’s important employees really consider which colleagues they ‘friend’ on Facebook, it’s also crucial managers consider the implications of this connection and the possible insights they’ll gain, and if they can separate those from their work.

If you’re a manager or HR or safety professional and you’re concerned an employee or colleague may be experiencing issues with drugs, but you don’t know how to deal with it, first stop is always your organisational drug policy. If you don’t have one, or need some extra advice, try our drugs at work online centre which provides factsheets, scripts and other tips for managing drug use at work.