I read an article today about how a 16 year old office worker from Essex was fired after she described her office job as ‘boring’ on her Facebook page.
Details were passed to her employers after she allowed colleagues access to her page, Miss Swann said, adding that she was not given the chance to explain.
Her mother, Janette, 41, said: “I think she’s been treated totally unfairly. She didn’t mention the company’s name.
“This is a 16-year-old child we’re talking about. She says Clacton is boring but we’re not going to throw her out of the house for it.”
Mr Ivell said: “Ivell Marketing is a small, close-knit family company and it is very important that all the staff work together in harmony.
“Had Miss Swann put up a poster on the staff notice board making the same comments and invited other staff to read it there would have been the same result.”
This got me thinking and it folded in nicely with a chat I had with @KristinNeher about employee access to Social Media tools. I’m wondering if employers have any right to influence or police what you say off premises, and off hours using social media networks. Personal networks. I get the argument that your facebook status is shared with a lot of people. But, its not completely public unless you have it set up that way. Additionally, why should your boss have anything to do with what you can say on your own time and who you can say it to?
I get the argument that its akin to putting up a sign somewhere. Trust me I get it. I wouldn’t want my staff talking negatively about me or my business online either. But is there a difference between frowning upon it, and taking away someone livelihood because they didn’t drink the Kool-Aid?
I’m honestly on the fence with this. On the one hand, I don’t think anyone has the right to tell me what I can and cannot say or do in my off time. But putting the shoe on the other foot – if I was a small business owner I think I would take issue if my employees were constantly talking negatively about what they do for a living. I just don’t know if its my obligation to find new employees, or to try and make the work experience better for our existing staff.
Is the answer to have ask people to keep their profiles semi-private or to talk about work problems first with a supervisor before taking it to the net? Is it something that can be solved with a ‘policy’ Tough stuff.
Krista said that she knows a person who is not allowed to even post where he works online and is obligated to delete comments that reference it. That seems a bit extreme to me. One of the greatest things about being involved in social media is being able to share ideas and opinions, and in general be yourself.
So where is the line? Is there a line? And how should companies address the fact that employees as well as customers are plugged in to the social web, and that they will share their feelings as well as ideas. More importantly, how can companies turn employees activities on social media networks from liabilities into assets?