An estimated 97 percent of adults who use the internet use social media, reports Small Business Trends. In 2016, users had, on average, seven social media accounts spanning various platforms from Pinterest and Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn. It is not uncommon for some people to “friend” or “follow” just about everyone they know, including old high school buddies, neighbors, and their grandmother.
The question is: should you friend your boss and coworkers? Will it create a sticky situation that you would be better off avoiding?
There are both risks and potential benefits associated with connecting with your boss and coworkers on social media. Much depends on your lifestyle, how you use social media, and your work atmosphere. Below we share some of the pros and cons you should consider before hitting the accept or follow button.
What are the dangers of being friends with your boss and coworkers online?
It can be risky for both bosses and workers to connect on social media. Employers, for example, risk accusations of favoritism or even inappropriate behavior if they like or comment on employees’ posts or photos. Plus, if a disgruntled employee sees something about the boss that undermines his/her integrity, the employee may report it to a superior.
For employees, befriending bosses on social media can get them into hot water in a hurry. For instance, the boss might wonder why an employee answered a job post on LinkedIn. Or worse, the boss might even fire you over a post or picture. If you call in sick and then someone posts a picture of you at the beach, that could be cause enough to give you the pink slip.
According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey, employers take a lot of stock in their employees’ social media accounts. In 2016:
- 60 percent of employers reported using social media sites to research current employees;
- 32 percent use Google and other search engines to check up on current employees; and
- 26 percent have reprimanded or fired an employee over online content.
The Benefits of Connecting with People at Work on Social Media
Of course, there may some benefit from connecting with coworkers on social media. It can build camaraderie, improve office morale, and make staying in touch after hours much easier. A lot depends on your workplace culture, too. If you work in a small, laid-back company and had a good relationship with your boss or coworkers prior to employment, being friends online is likely okay.
However, if you choose to add people from work on social media, be hyper-vigilant with your behavior. Be mindful of online content that can put your job in danger, such as:
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information
- Photos of or comments about you drinking, using drugs, or engaging in illegal activities
- Discriminatory comments
- Making negative comments about your job or coworkers
What if my employer wrongfully fired me over something on my social media profile?
Employers have every right to fire employees for just about any lawful reason, including social media posts that taint your character. However, if you believe your firing resulted from discriminatory practices, you might have a valid case of wrongful termination.
Call Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. to discuss the validity of your case: 513-665-9500.