Every week, I see employees knocking their employers or customers on social media. My Facebook feed often includes a post office employee talking about the “stupid” things people ask him, several WalMart employees complaining about their bosses, customers, and working hours, and department store employees calling out customers as lazy.
Times have changed, and, for most of us, online interaction and social media are a part of everyday life. But are your online activities jeopardizing your job? If you’re not sure, chances are the answer is yes.
How online activity affects your employment:
It can get you fired.
No matter who your employer is, certain activities can serve as grounds for firing or reprimands. Talking badly about your employer, company, or customers is bad for business. Check if your company has a clause outlining social media and your responsibility outside of the office to uphold the company’s image.
And if you think your employer can’t gain access to your online posts, think again. A good rule of thumb is to remember that everything you do has the potential to be made highly public. Deleting posts, blogs, or comments doesn’t actually delete anything. A copy of everything you post online is still stored in multiple places and can be retrieved by the right person.
It can come back to haunt you, even if you’re not talking about your company.
Using hate speech or engaging in online discussions that include harming another person or their reputation through your comments can result in a lawsuit, or it can serve as grounds for dismissal from your job.
Discuss posts in a respectful manner and refrain from getting on a soapbox. If your employer investigates your comments online and feels that you’re acting in a manner that could reflect badly on the company, you could be let go. Just don’t be hateful or intolerant, and you won’t have to worry about this.
It’s important in hiring decisions.
Now more than ever, your online activities can be the deciding factor in obtaining employment. Many companies include a basic online search and criminal background check as a normal part of the hiring process. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll choose another applicant.
It’s considered a reflection of character.
Conducting yourself well online also reflects your personal character and ability to get along with others. A common proverb says that a true reflection of a man’s character is revealed in how he treats those who cannot do anything for him. Likewise, your character can be measured by how you treat those whom you believe have no power to affect your life.
Commenting on others’ blog comments can sometimes turn into a battle of wits or opinions, and sadly, name calling is common. Treat your fellow blog commentators as those who are entitled to disagree with your views and don’t give in to the temptation to feel as if you’ve “won the fight” by calling names or disrespecting others. Your current or future employer may view this as an indication of how you treat coworkers and subordinates when your boss isn’t looking.
It could reveal that you’re not doing your work.
Your employer is likely to check up on when you use social media avenues. If you’re tweeting or updating your Facebook status on company time, it could cost you your job.