We've all heard the horror stories about individuals being denied jobs because of content posted on a Facebook profile.
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It turns out that Facebook can cause all sorts of workplace problems. As such, we've tried to isolate a few key learnings on what to watch out for when Facebook finds its way into the office.
What's Outside of the Office Does Not Always Stay There
Because the main theme of social networks is to connect with friends, most profiles are not set up to be viewed as your professional self, but as someone in a more casual and social setting.
As an employer, you may not want employees to know about specific interests, hobbies, or whereabouts outside of the office. The same applies to employees. Credibility issues arise when such content is revealed in the wrong context.
Most sites offer various degrees of privacy for which a profile can be set. For example, Facebook gives the choice of making a profile public, limited, completely private, or not even searchable. It also has the option of picking and choosing what each individual friend can see.
This can help if someone from work decides to add you as a friend, or vice versa. All of your work friends can see some personal information, but not pictures or wall posts that you may feel are beyond what you want coworkers to know about you.
Be Cautious of Posted Information.
Remember, you still work with the people that you choose to be friends with online. It is not a good idea to allow your boss or coworkers to see information that suggests negative things about you or your job. For instance, being a member of a group referring to how you are lazy or dislike your job, is not something that should be seen by people you work with.
Even though it may be just a funny joke, it could be misinterpreted and make its way into office conversations. If you decide to actively integrate your work relationships and your social networks, this may be a good time to limit what your fellow employees view.
Differences in Work Environments
Each company or business has a different environment that sets the tone for relationships between coworkers. Some are extremely formal, and many do not want to disclose a lot of information about their personal lives. In this case, socializing on social networks should most likely not be done. If the issue comes up, it would be a good idea to simply let people know that you are not comfortable with sharing information beyond the office building.
On the other hand, there are work settings that are extremely laid back and more personal. People may form close friendships within the office, go out to happy hours, or even do other social activities together outside of work. In this case, if you are comfortable doing so, it is more acceptable to befriend coworkers online because there is already an existing relationship outside of work.
This is extremely important for employers to heed. A boss who picks and chooses who they request to befriend, or denies one request and accepts another, may hurt or offend employees. They may feel that favorites are being chosen and conflicts may arise.
It is important to be consistent in order to not disrupt the working environment. One should decide to accept all, deny all, or allow employees and coworkers to all see the same information. Not as important, but still significant, is the way an employee conducts this process with their coworkers.
Remember how you want to be viewed at work. Then decide if your profile will reflect that same persona. Online socializing should not be something that hinders you in your career, so it is vital to be cautious before you decide to accept or reject a connection.