Employees will do dumb stuff on social media (shock)

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.

5 thoughts on “Employees will do dumb stuff on social media (shock)

  1. The best approach, in my opinion, is to educate people, so that they know what is and is not acceptable. Control is futile, especially in an environment where change is frequent and swift. People need to know how to set privacy settings and to appreciate the reasons why a client might not want to see them out-on-the-tiles at their best friend’s stag/hen do, but might like to get to know them better via social media and see them as a more complete and authentic human being, as opposed to simply a work contact.

  2. Employees do dumb stuff because they don’t care either for their reputation or company’s property. Education is the best way to tell them that this thing hurts everybody involved. Though damage to company’s reputation should be dealt with strictly, HR needs to understand that employees have a life outside work too. Employees doing dumb stuff on/for social media popularity which is not hurting anybody (company and clients) should be ignored.

  3. Great post – people have always done daft things at the weekend and still turned up to work and done a good job. We don’t own their behaviour outside of work etc.

    The one exception to this would be jobs where your overall image contributes to the customer’s perception e.g. some jobs in the hospitality industry as an example. I guess someone doing holistic therapy would not wish to show pictures of them getting wasted on a Friday night!! I am fortunate to have worked in Scientific R&D where it mattered little as to what I did in my private life. I do however recall that one or two of my staff used to find it troublesome when I would show up for work with eyeliner on from music performances the previous evening … in hindsight I guess I should have bought some eye makeup remover … they have forgiven me some years later !!

  4. Pingback: Stuff people say to me about social media | hrgem

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