I had that social media conversation a few days ago, with a fellow HR professional. You know the one. About risk. About whether or not employees would do dumb stuff on social media if you gave them access, encouraged its use.
My answer was this. Yes, employees will definitely do dumb stuff on social media.
Why? It’s simple.
Employees have always done dumb stuff at work, and social is no different. And if you have been in HR for a while, you’ll know exactly what I mean. I know I have seen my fair share of dumb stuff over the years.
There was the employee who decided to smoke a special roll up in his car on his mid shift break. Only his car was parked directly under the car park CCTV camera and we got the whole thing on film.
There was the employee who came to work still drunk from the previous evening, and was found fast asleep on his desk, using the Yellow Pages as a pillow.
There was the one who made a lengthy call to sex chatline, whilst working in a call centre. Where calls were monitored and recorded for training and development purposes.
There was the employee who took a photograph of a certain part of his anatomy, and emailed it to several of his colleagues via his work email address.
There was the employee whose ‘trousers fell off’ whilst visiting a female customer’s home, while he was also rummaging around her bedroom.
Then there was the group of employees who filmed themselves causing damage to company property, whilst wearing their branded uniform, and then uploaded it to You Tube. With their faces on full view.
And then there was the employee who threw a Satsuma at the head of the call centre causing him to fall of his chair and split his head open on the corner of the desk.
Employees will do dumb stuff at work and on social media, because they are human beings, and sometimes, human beings are dumb. We do things that don’t make sense. We do things that are not good for us. We are not always rationale or sensible.
Here’s the thing. When it comes to social media at work, all the restrictions and the policies and the surveillance in the world won’t stop it. But on the way to trying, you might just lose something. So on balance, if employees do something dumb on social media, it really isn’t the end of the world.
And just as with the employee caught stealing, or over-claiming expenses, or misusing any of the other technology they have access to, or indeed any of the other things that fall under the scope of the disciplinary policy (up to and including dismissal) then we will deal with it. Just the same as in HR, we always have.
Note to readers: all the above examples are over ten years old. So anyone I have worked with recently can stop wondering who had the trousers incident.