All kinds of ill behaviour gets shared on social media. Photo: Shutterstock

Friday 8th July 2016

Off your Facebook

Employees really, really don't care what they share

Children are interesting beasts, in that they’ll almost immediately do whatever you tell them not to. Instruct any child under the age of ten not to stick a chip up their nose and you can bet your life that within minutes you’ll be fishing one of McCain’s finest out of their nostrils with a pair of eyebrow tweezers.

And it transpires that employees are pretty much the same. The media and HR departments have spent the last couple of years (at least) talking about social media policy, and how aberrant behaviour on Facebook in particular could land you in trouble with the boss.

But have employees listened? No, they most certainly have not.

This week, a study by employment law solicitors Thomas Mansfield has revealed that 51% of Brits wouldn’t think twice about posting a photo of themselves drunk on social media profiles. (That’s almost as many as voted for Brexit, but we’re not suggesting a connection.)

Of the 51% that would post a photo, despite the well-documented potential repercussions, just over two-thirds – 67% – have already posted a picture of themselves drunk on their social media profiles.

That’s just the legal activity. The survey also revealed that 14% of respondents have posted a photo of themselves using drugs.

From post to pillory

Meredith Hurst, a partner at Thomas Mansfield, echoes the advice of a thousand recruitment consultants when he says that ‘in the current job market, potential employers are increasingly turning to social media to research candidates’. (According to CareerBuilder last year, that figure’s already at 52%. And that’s the ‘official’ research – it doesn’t even begin to measure the research being done by peers and reports, keen to discover what the new boy or girl is really like.)

Meredith Hurst
Meredith Hurst

Hurst also raises the tricky issue of employees’ social profiles making employers look bad, with less than hilarious consequences. ‘Pictures of drug use or excessive drinking can reflect badly on you, especially if it can be argued that it goes against the terms of your contract or could damage the company’s image and reputation,’ he adds.

Other interesting statistics from the survey include that 57% thought it was fine to complain about a disappointing pay rise on social media, 48% were comfortable posting about their political agendas and 44% are happy to have a public argument on social media. (But actually, that’s what Twitter’s for, isn’t it?)

Share, don’t care

Perhaps most tellingly 12% simply don’t care how their social media profiles look to others. (Especially their employers, we imagine.) Why so?

Some psychologists argue that it’s because our social media personas are precious projections of the selves we want to be – personalities uninhibited by the compromises we need to make in the non-digital world.

But as other commentators suggest, there’s the resentment caused to a few by the further encroachment of work into non-work life, without any commensurate extension to job security or reward. In other words, they’re saying that you can take it so far, boss, but this is my space, and I’ll have a fag and a few beers in it if that’s what I want.







About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.