How Not to Impress Your Boss this Valentine’s Day – By Way of Social Media

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Flowers, cards, candy and stuffed bears, it must be close to Valentine’s Day. With a questionable origin, Valentine’s Day has grown in popularity in the United States in addition to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and France. 

February 14 is the second-most popular greeting-card-giving day, totaling nearly 150 million office valentineexchanges. For all you procrastinators out there, over half of card purchases occur six days before the holiday.  

Flowers, cards and candy – that may be the way to the heart of that special someone. But how do you make your boss love you? Did you know that 75-80 percent of people leave jobs because of relationship issues? On top of that, 75 percent of people voluntarily leaving jobs don’t do so to quit their job, they quit their bosses.

One way to strengthen the relationship between employee and boss is to eliminate the worrying factor. That worrying factor: Social media activity. Don’t be that person the boss has to worry about online.

Or in other words, don’t become these people:

Facebook:

Surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri trial, a police officer in Monroe, Louisiana posted offensive posts that lead to his dismissal. Officer Doug Lambert was fired after an internal investigation following two posts that read:

“I’ve got an idea how to clear the streets in Ferguson, Missouri. Let’s have a crop duster fly over and drop out job applications. That’ll do it.”

-And-

“I’m surprised the beauty salon didn’t have armed guards. That ‘good hair’ is expensive. That’s ghetto gold.”

Monroe Mayor, Jamie Mayo, was not impressed by the November 2014 posts. Mayo stated that Lambert’s comments were “unbecoming of a police officer” and supported his dismissal from the force.

Lesson Learned: Even if it is your personal account, common sense and discretion are crucial.

One of the most well-known, yet controversial Facebook firings surrounds a teacher from Apalachee High School in Winder, Georgia. Ashley Payne, an English teacher, was summoned into the head Payne Facebookteacher’s office and questioned about her Facebook activity. After confirming she had pictures with alcohol posted, she was given an ultimatum: resign or be suspended. Payne chose to resign, although she felt pressured into the decision. After the incident, she discovered an anonymous parent turned in the pictures to her boss.

Should Payne have been fired for posting legal photos online to her personal, very private social account? Photos that were taken overseas on a summer vacation, not in the vicinity of students.

Although Payne’s photos were not illegal (she was 24 at the time), the school took offense to the posts and took action. According to CBS news, in court documents, administrators say teachers were warned about “unacceptable online activities” by the district. Payne’s page, they say, “promoted alcohol use” and “contained profanity.”

In her defense, Payne stated, “[The photos are] not even of me drinking the drinks and I don’t look like I’m intoxicated in any way or doing anything provocative or inappropriate.”

Payne sued to get her job back, but a Barrow County judge ruled against her and in favor of the school.

First Lesson Learned: Know your company’s social media policy. Even if the act is not illegal, it may be violating your employers rules and regulations.

Second Lesson Learned: For employers- find a balance between taking action when employees violate conduct and when they post legal content to their personal, private pages.

The list of employees being fired because of Facebook posts is extensive. Read more cases here.

Twitter:

Be careful what you post online, even before you have started a job. A Twitter user, @Cellla_ decided to take to the social media site to share her thoughts on starting her new job the next day. On February 6, the user tweeted “Ew I start this *explicit* *explicit* job tomorrow.” The job the user was supposed to start the next day was at a Jet’s Pizza in Texas.

Tweet 1

A current employee of the pizzeria saw the girl’s tweet and notified the manager. The result? @Cellla_ was fired before she even started her job. Robert Waple (@RobertWaple) replied to the tweet with this: “@Cellla_ And…no you don’t start that FA job today! I just fired you! Good luck with your no money, no job life!” The tweet by Waple, however, has since been removed. That didn’t stop Twitter users from grabbing a screenshot.

Robert Waple Tweet

Lesson learned: Tweeting negatively prior to starting a new job is no way to get on the good side of your employer.

Negatively tweeting before starting a job is dangerous, but so is tweeting while working. Kim Lehmkuhl, a California city clerk, was criticized by residents for tweeting offensive tweets rather than transcribing meetings. Since the incidents, Lehmkuhl’s Twitter account has been disabled, but so has her job. She was asked to resign, which she did by way of letter to the Mayor.

Lesson learned: Posting offensive messages regarding your job and/or employer will not likely have a positive outcome.

The list of terminated employees due to social media activity continues to grow. View a brief list of firings dating back to 2002 here.

Tips for Employees

The amount of people who have gotten themselves in hot water due to online activity is astronomical. That does not mean that you should write off social networks. It does mean you need to think before posting and follow a few guidelines:

  1. Use common sense – If you begin to write a post and have an uneasy feeling, don’t publish the content. It’s as easy as that. Listen to your gut.
  2. Review your company’s social media policy If you are unaware of the policy, ask a member of upper management to see a copy. If your company does not have one, suggest one be created – maybe even volunteer to be of assistance.
  3. Adjust your privacy settings accordingly – Be aware of your privacy settings for all social media accounts. Facebook provides step-by-step instructions on how to adjust settings. Understand, however, that hashtags do not work properly when a profile is locked down. If you’re tweeting for one of our webinars using our hashtag #CrisisCoach, your tweet will not appear in the hashtag search.
  4. Keep it off social media – Once you post online, it will never go away – regardless of if you delete the post. Chances are, others have seen that offensive photo or tweet and took a screenshot – see reference above regarding the Jet’s Pizza manager. If there is a work-related issue, try to eradicate the problem in person rather than online.

Tips for Employers

  1. Review the company social media policy with all employeesEnsure everyone within the organization is aware of ramifications of negative social media activity. All new employee onboarding packets must include your company’s social media policy.
  2. Encourage social media activity Encourage employees to post about company events, milestones or fun-facts. Of course, make sure the messages are positive.
  3. Create a welcoming environmentFoster a workplace that allows employees the ability to come forward with any concerns. Rather than posting after-hours to their social media following, encourage employees to bring issues to management by creating a solid, positive relationship.
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